Sydney WorldPride 2023 is taking place right now, from 17 February to 5 March, with hundreds of celebrations and live events happening all over the Harbour City. One of these is Blessed Union at the Belvoir St Theatre. It’s a new play by playwright Maeve Marsden, who grew up with two mums, and whose play focuses on a lesbian couple who’ve been together decades and have two kids, but find their love for each other has faded. Thus, they agree to separate.
As 21st century gay women, Ruth and Judith feel they will be able to manage a civilised detangling from each other, perhaps even keep living together under the one roof (‘conscious uncoupling’, anyone?). As Judith graciously tells Ruth, “I release you and wish you well on your onward journey.” But to their disappointment, things don’t go as smoothly as they’d hoped.
Director Hannah Goodwin says she is “thrilled” to be directing the premiere production of Blessed Union, and calls it a “complex, glorious human mess. Maeve is an extraordinary mind. Her play is both ferociously witty and deeply loving.”
Indeed. Although it’s the story of a break-up, the attachments run deep within this modern family quartet and the play is by turns, both touching and funny. Ruth and Judith’s kids, law student Delilah (Emma Diaz) and Year 12 student Asher (Jasper Lee-Lindsay) are quick-witted and extraordinary and on a stage brimming with talent, I feel the younger actors steal the show. They disagree on how to behave concerning the break-up and dealing with Judith, whose grief is more visceral than Ruth’s. As Asher tells Delilah, “I really don’t think it’s your job.” But Delilah retorts: “Looking after the people you love is not a job.” Their on-stage mums are Danielle Cormack (Wentworth) and veteran actress Maude Davey and the grace with which each actor performs their part makes the audience believe and invest in this fracturing family trying to hold onto love.
Belvoir St Theatre
Until 10 March, 2023