153: Post Office Rose

21 Aug

Linda Hassall’s Post Office Rose is a hard-hitting, funny and brutal play about friendship, revenge and rough women.

Independent Brisbane

The action takes place in the Post Office Hotel in a small country town, next door to a pig abbatoir. The screams of the dying pigs punctuate the action and set teeth on edge, letting the audience know they are in for something horrible. Eddie owns the pub and chooses to keep it rough. She won’t have corn chips or chardonnay in her establishment. The only concession is a jukebox that plays Patsy Cline. 15 years ago Eddie and three girlfriends had a Patsy Cline cover band called Paper Roses. Then one of the girls, Charlie, left and the band fell apart.

The evening of the play’s action is the first time that Charlie has been back in 15 years. She bumped into Louie, the lead singer of the band, and was persuaded to make the trek ‘home’. Charlie is vulnerable, wears heels that are way too high and is a terrible hypochondriac: “chemist went broke when you left town. Had to close down.” She’s also naive to the point of being simple.

CHARLIE: High heels suit me.
I’ve got good legs. I was told …
I shave them every day.
LOUIE: I can never go past my knees. Cut myself to ribbons.
EDDIE: Don’t bother myself.
LOUIE: Turned feminist …
EDDIE: That’s me.
CHARLIE: I’m glad I’m not a feminist. I can shave my legs like God intended me to.

Stevie, the fourth member of the band, died on a helicopter joyflight (“country singers should take the bus”), so now there are just three of the old friends left. But there is a fourth character on stage: Patsy Cline. She sings, talks as a narratorial sort of voice, and also plays any other characters in flashback scenes.

PATSY: The fifth element. Louie’s fella. Slick I would of called him. Real pretty stuff. One of the few boys that didn’t slaughter pigs, worked on some property ’round here. Cowboy type. Legs right up to, you know. Lean.
Every time you looked at him, you’d imagine what those legs looked like wrapped around a horse. A’ course, in a place like this, he was real popular. Charlie and Stevie wanted to go horse ridin’ with him if you know what I’m saying, but Louie was already takin’ lessons. And Eddie, well Eddie just plain wasn’t interested.

I love the gutsy female roles and the language which goes from coarse to poetic in a heartbeat. It’s guttural and visceral writing. What I struggle with is the violence and the level of premeditated brutality. The women in Post Office Rose plan their revenge for 15 years and execute it with cold and horrific intent. Maybe I’m blessed, but I haven’t met women like that and the lack of empathy or indeed any humanity, seems almost outlandish to me.

LOUIE: You ever love anyone like you did when you were 18? You never love someone the same, kiss the same, screw the same. It’s like you’re dying… […] Nearly as good as those friends you make when you’re 12, Charlie. You never have friends like that again.

This is the justification for everything that happens. Charlie betrayed a friendship that started at 12 and Louie and Eddie have never forgiven her for it. The pigs aren’t the only ones who will be screaming tonight.

Published by Playlab Press in Independent Brisbane.

Cast: 4F

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