Two mob bosses in wild times in Australia in the early part of the 20th century challenged one another for dominance in Sydney. One specialized in illegal liquor, the other made money in the world’s oldest profession, and each was at the head of the class in their division. Most shocking, both then and now, is that these ne’er do wells were woman.
Kate Mulley’s book and lyrics and Andy Peterson’s music bring these raconteur racketeers to life. Cheryl Katz’s vision and direction brings these characters into a very real light in a very present setting. Tilly Devine (Claire McClanahan) and Kate Leigh (Catherine Fries Vaughn) bring to life two extremely real women, with the humanity, vanity, and chutzpah not only to make it in a man’s world, but to command the respect of the men who were in it. Leaping into full color existence from old newspapers and sepia photographs, these two women are four-dimensional characters, who show us their grit and their humanity in equal measure. Matched in determination and sharp as tacks where each one’s business is concerned, they meet in Brian Dudkiewicz’ recreation of a swanky tea shop, owned by a descendent of Tilly’s, in a former sly grog shop that had been owned by Kate. What more perfect aspect could there be? Making the concept more metaphysical still is that this tea shop no longer exists … ghosts upon ghosts upon ghosts.
Vaughn’s portrayal is the first we come to know and we come to know Kate Leigh as someone as sharp and hard as a diamond, going for proper and matronly. McClanahan’s Tilly is a dilly–blue language and earthy behavior abound–and she’s in a corporeal business. Her heart is on her non-existent sleeve and her lush view of the world has a bit of fraying around the edges. How these women spar, then come together, then spar again is like watching music. And Andy Peterson’s music and Kate Mulley’s lyrics will touch your heart. McClanahan and Vaughn together are achingly beautiful. We can compare song favorites after you see the show.
Jorge Arroyo’s lighting compliments the neo-worker shop set and Deborah Caney’s costumes set our expectation for exactly how each woman approaches her work and her life. Be sure to visit Kaitlin Stilwell’s Context Room before each show for a chat and then move to the theatre for that rare opportunity to have a snack before the show–right where you are! The edible delights are from the neighboring Pink Cupcake and your timeliness is well rewarded by both.
Meet Kate. Meet Tilly. These valentines are women you will truly find memorable. Roses fade, cards take up space. Give YOUR Valentine a World Premiere for Valentine’s Day, and an experience that lasts forever.
“Razorhurst” plays through March 4. If you want to give someone an amazing experience, get your tickets now by visiting www.lunastage.org