Any member of a dysfunctional family will spend the duration of Other Desert Cities nodding and chuckling knowingly. It’s safe to say it’s a performance which appeals to the masses.
Set in Palm Springs on the edge of the desert, there is an immediate sense of remoteness which many Perth-ites can relate to. The entire show plays out in witty Polly and, former actor and politician, Lyman Wyeth’s contemporary home. Given the slick setting, the mood is deceptively serene, at least to begin with.
It’s Christmas time as their daughter Brooke broods in from New York in a state of angst and despair over her novel. The subject is her family; written with all the arrogance of an artiste and obliviousness of a teenager. Except she’s an adult and had a biased hand from her mother’s sister and recovering alcoholic Aunt Silda.
Brooke wrote her novel as a cathartic process to deal with the death of her beloved brother who was, “Her best friend in the whole wide world.” Although there is much compassion for the family’s grief, it’s difficult to sympathise with Brooke’s endless whining and likely warped perception of her privileged upbringing.
When her charismatic brother Tripp, a reality-TV producer, reads the “memoir” he questions whether it’s a fictional tale. The irony being he’s an apparent expert on the truth of reality. But despite knowing the book would both confront and devastate her family, Brooke is not to be deterred. Will she publish or not?
As emotions reach boiling point her parents reveal a deep dark secret. Given the Wyeth’s wealth and charity work they have an image to protect, which combined with the underlying themes of politics and terrorism, the groundwork is strategically laid for the “big reveal.”
Superbly acted by the entire cast, the architecturally designed set by Christina Smith seamlessly transports the State Theatre Centre of WA and the audience into the Wyeth’s stylish home.
Much like this, or any review for that matter, never does the theory ring truer of: one person’s truth is another’s deception. The Black Swan State Theatre Company once again delivers a punch Perth audiences are lapping up.