THE APPLETON LADIES’ POTATO RACE – State Theatre – Royalty Theatre – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

When lesbian, Penny (Anna Steen), returns, after years away, to her home town as the new local GP, her presence stirs up all sorts of memories and resentments, most notably when she wishes to make equal the prizemoney for men and women on offer for the annual potato race – the race that stops this ‘nation’, at least.

The only support she gets is from another relative outsider to Appleton, Rania (Susie Youssef), a refugee. Amongst those lined up against them is the energetic mother of four boys, Nikki (Sarah Brokensha), her mother, town matriarch, Bev (Carmel Johnson) and Bev’s sister, Barb (Genevieve Mooy).

Melanie Tait’s play rollicks along under the direction of Elena Carapetis with Kathryn Sproul’s set taking us convincingly to a self-supporting but struggling rural outpost. While all the characters’ various foibles and challenges get resolved by play’s end, for many the pace may be sufficient to cover the often obvious humour and cardboard cut-out caricatures. Needless to say in a play written, directed and performed by women, the men of the town only get mentioned and then as druggies, dead-beats or the better off dead.

All the cast do a good job with special credit to Anna Steen as the outsider who takes on the burden of attempting change, with its bombast and barbs.

Unchallenging, jovial fare to warm a cold winter’s heart.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

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