Melbourne Theatre Company’s Three Little Words plays to its audience demographic. On opening night the theatre was packed and the applause were lengthy for the world premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s new play. Murray-Smith is a Melbourne-based playwright and no stranger to MTC. Most recently the theatre produced her thriller Switzerland as part of the 2016 season.
The play examines relationships and friendships. Two couples, Tess and Curtis and their closest friends Bonnie and Annie, have both been together for years. But at the dinner party for their 20th wedding anniversary, Tess and Curtis announce that they are splitting.
This bombshell news rocks Bonnie and Annie’s perception of their own relationship and how they relate to their friends who are now singles instead of a couple. Meanwhile, Tess and Curtis’s previously loving and civil relationship is permanently altered. The show runs for an hour and forty five minutes with no interval as the actors bring a range of experiences to the stage with humour, love, and tears.
Murray-Smith herself has been married for over twenty years, so she possesses an intimate understanding of the subject matter. She wanted to write a play about love and friendship that was contemporary but also timeless. It was refreshing to see a same-sex couple as a normalised feature in the script. Murray-Smith also included contemporary elements such as Tess being the breadwinner of the couple and, of course, skyrocketing housing prices. Perhaps one of the ‘timeless’ features was the familiar and infuriating actions of Curtis dating a 20-year-old ex-student immediately following the couple’s split.
The set designs at MTC are consistently excellent and Three Little Words was no exception. Designer Michael Hankin laid out chic home furnishings on a rotating stage. Hankin’s design allowed for easy transitions between locations – from a dinner party to a couple’s lounge room to a theatre lobby.
The show will resonate most with those that have experienced longings in longterm relationships or the divorce of close friends. Fans of new Australian work can also look forward to three more world premieres of Australian plays at MTC this year, with Three Little Words as the first.
Jenny S. is an event adventurer. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
Three Little Words runs until 27 May 2017 (1hr 45mins) at the South Bank Theatre, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank.
The venue is accessible.