Review: The Aspirations of Daise Morrow

A hot and dusty day in suburban Australia brings two families together.

★★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Aspirations of Daise Morrow. Image: Tim Standing.
Published 12 Aug 2018

1960s surburban Australia. The fictional town of Sarsaparilla on the day of Daise Morrow's funeral. It's hot and dusty as two neighbouring families, the Hogbens and the Whalleys, go about their days unaware of the connection their children are going to share.

The slow pace of town life and the importance of social standing within it evokes memories of To Kill A Mockingbird. This show's extra something comes from the Zephyr Quartet, which provides the perfect string accompaniment to Sarsaparillan life. 

The story flits between the families as the middle-class Hogbens attend Auntie Daise's funeral, and the Whalleys spend the day at the dump. It also flashes back to scenes from Daise's controversial love life. From this we learn that before her death, Daise had taken in Ossie, the town's Boo Radley, a man with a perpetually runny nose. After meeting, the two hold each other in pure ecstasy, starring up at the sky and washed in blue by Nigel Evings' lighting design. It is truly one of the most beautiful moments of theatre you will ever see.

James Smith, who plays Ossie among other characters, gives a standout performance. His grief over the loss of Daise is devastating, his whole body contorting in agony as the person who gave him purpose is ripped away. 

The piece finishes with Daise self-eulogising on her own grave. It has a Sermon on the Mount tone to it, as she tells the "no-hopers" that they matter, to live life adventurously and not to conform to society's expectations. After all of this your heart will be full and your eyes misty. It's an utterly gorgeous show.