Thursday, July 19, 2018


Written by Hannie Rayson
Directed by Denny Lawrence
Christine Harris and HIT Productions
The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 21 July

Reviewed by Len Power 18 July 2018

Hotel Sorrento was first performed in 1990 by the Playbox Theatre Company at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne.  Since then the play has had many productions throughout Australia and overseas and it was filmed in 1995.

The play focusses on three sisters who grew up in the seaside resort of Sorrento, Victoria.  Hilary has stayed home to care for their elderly father and her son while Pippa has been living in New York and Meg has moved to London.  When they are all reunited at the family home in Sorrento, uncomfortable issues from the past are raised.

The first half of the play provides the detail of the family members’ past and sets the mood of a leisurely existence in a seaside town.  Life here is both comfortable and restricting.  Writer, Hannie Rayson, provides the actors with nicely realistic Australian characters but the first act seems overlong.  Being played almost cinematically in small scenes, jumping around between three major set pieces, it’s hard to maintain any feeling of involvement with the characters.

In the second act when revelations about the family come out, the play totters on the edge of soap opera.  Characters have conversations in situations that seem contrived and lack realism.

Director, Denny Lawrence, has obtained good, in-depth performances from his cast of eight.  Ruth Caro was particularly effective as Hilary and there were especially fine performances by Mike Smith as the journalist, Dick, Kim Denman as Meg and Saxon Gray as the son, Troy.  Lawrence made it flow reasonably well from one scene to the next, but the lunch scene at the dinner table looked too stagey with everyone sitting behind or to the side of the table.

The set for the production was designed by Adrienne Chisholm and was quite substantial for a touring production.  It was functional but without any striking design elements.

Hotel Sorrento has been a popular play over the years but maybe its style and themes are now too familiar from similar plays and movies.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.