Above – Danielle Cormack, Emma Diaz, Jasper Lee-Lindsay & Maude Davey. Cover – Danielle Cormack & Maude Davey. Photos – Brett Boardman

Here's the story of a couple of ladies
Who are bringing up two totally erudite kids.
Woke bespoke, politically engaged
Their romance is on the skids.

This is no Brady Bunch, as hard as they may have tried, but the bewildered quartet at the hilarious heart of Maeve Marsden’s debut play, Blessed Union.

 Ruth and Judy, union organiser and school teacher respectively, have striven to have the perfect rainbow family. They’ve worked hard over the years to create the perfect blended family free from racism, the patriarchy, and homophobia.

Their mixed race progeny, Delilah and Asher, are smart and eloquent. Delilah is studying law at university, Asher is a gleeful iconoclast at Catholic secondary school where a sex act perpetrated on a statue of the Virgin has caused expulsion.

It’s an Easter story dramatic enough, fraught with conflict and comedy, but it’s just one thread in the fabric of this marvellous play. An emotional storm is brewing somewhere over the rainbow and the women are separating.

For the sake of family stability, they have worked out a plan to stay under the same roof so as to not disrupt the household status quo, devising a stratagem that will circumvent the chaos that heteronormative divorces unleash.

Fat chance. Civilised and rational so easily crumble in the face of heartbreak and betrayal and the family unit so painstakingly put together begins to disintegrate.

Abandonment breeds animosity, alcohol fuels acrimony, desertion germinates desperation and an Australian icon or two trigger immolation.

Maeve Marsden’s script is laden with zingers, a barrage of killer lines assail us in the first act, almost an embarrassment of comic stitches embroider the domestic drama, and director Hannah Goodwin and her cast let it have its head from the get go.

Danielle Cormack’s pragmatic union official Ruth presents a firebrand feminist tempered by the passage of time, the product of a family that withdrew its support when she came out as a lesbian now, ironically, at risk of being ostracised by the family she has created in the image of her political conviction.

Maude Davey’s Judith is the epitome of woke, loves being a mother  and is fiercely proud of her brood and the personal politics that spurred the process and fruition of the family she has made with Ruth. But the progress made folds into regression as she battles to deal with the heartache of Ruth’s abandonment.

Emma Diaz as Delilah is dazzling as the dutiful daughter dealing with a titanic tectonic shift in a family fault line. 

And Jasper Lee-Lindsay shines as Asher revelling in mischief and bon mots, an adolescent in a ferment of not so furtive rebellion.

Blessed Union boasts a set to impress: Isabel Hudson’s décor for the play is an impressive structre of a working kitchen and dining room where the characters cook, make pasta, eat,  drink, and have the odd food fight. Hudson also designed the costumes which are equally impressive.

Blessed Union is a funny as hell look at lofty ideals come a cropper when pesky human emotion gets involved. It's a playful critique on political correctness, its flaws sure,  but also its enduring and empowering foundations.

A blessed union of comedy and drama, design and content, Blessed Union is a beauty.

Event details

Belvoir presents
Blessed Union
by Maeve Marsden

Director Hannah Goodwin

Venue: Upstairs Theatre | Belvoir St Theatre NSW
Dates: 11 Feb – 11 March 2023
Tickets: $93 – $50
Bookings: belvoir.com.au

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