Peta Murray's "Salt" is literally a kitchen-sink drama, perfectly targeted to please conservative, mostly female, subscriber auds. In the neat two-and-a-half hander, an aging mother and her middle-aged daughter -- forced into each other's company by the mother's declining health -- engage in an emotional tug-of-war.

Peta Murray’s “Salt” is literally a kitchen-sink drama, perfectly targeted to please conservative, mostly female, subscriber auds. In the neat two-and-a-half hander, an aging mother and her middle-aged daughter –forced into each other’s company by the mother’s declining health — engage in an emotional tug-of-war around a waist-high sink/benchtop/stove in the daughter’s kitchen as a generic male ducks and weaves around them.

Resentment has long simmered between the flirtatious mother and the now-single daughter — it’s universal stuff. The well-honed script, which features cooking onstage, pays homage to the foodie genre exemplified by Laura Esquivel’s book and film “Like Water for Chocolate.”

Weak link here is lead performances under thesp-turned-director Jennifer Hagan. Oz stage vet Pamela Rabe, a Canadian expat, served up a perf so icy cold it hinted at deeper psychological scarring that was never laid bare.

As the mother, octogenarian thesp Ruth Cracknell in part reprised her dotty character from long-running Australian Broadcasting Corp. comedy “Mother and Son,” while otherwise looking like she was going through the motions. The aesthetically pleasing Socratis Otto was well cast.

Dan Potra’s stage design of big perspex boxes containing foods and kitchen implements, and a fully functioning stove and sink, is great.

Salt

Wharf 1 Theater, Sydney; 324 Seats; A$54 ($27)

Production

Sydney Theater Co. presents a drama in five acts written by Peta Murray. Directed by Jennifer Hagan.

Creative

Set design, Dan Potra; costumes, Kimm Kovac; lighting, Rory Dempster; composer, Sarah de Jong; voice coach, Victoria Mielewska. Opened Aug. 9, 2001; reviewed Aug. 10. Running time: 1 HOUR, 40 MIN.

Cast

Laurel - Ruth Cracknell Meg - Pamela Rabe The Man - Socratis Otto

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