Two of Australia's best playwrights, Hannie Rayson and Andrew Bovell, unpack the pain of divorce in "Scenes From a Separation," a "he says-she says" performed by a stellar cast and guided by the sure hand of Sydney Theater Co. topper Robyn Nevin.

Two of Australia’s best playwrights, Hannie Rayson and Andrew Bovell, unpack the pain of divorce in “Scenes From a Separation,” a “he says-she says” performed by a stellar cast and guided by the sure hand of Sydney Theater Co. topper Robyn Nevin.

Guaranteed not to disappoint STC’s devoted subscriber base, this new production of the 9-year-old script hits every mark, concluding on a high note what has been a patchy 2004 season.

Mathew (Nicholas Eadie) runs his family’s publishing company, where his wife, Nina (Georgie Parker), has started working as biographer of the “great” Lawrence Clifford (Max Cullen). When Mathew slips inconsolably into midlife depression, Nina develops feelings for Clifford, hastening the disintegration of their marriage.

Mathew reacts by initiating a dalliance with his talented young editor, Siobhan (Sophie Gregg). She’s already had a fling with his brother Darcy (Sean O’Shea), who is likewise separating from his wife and drowning his sorrows in booze.

Mathew picking up with Darcy’s girlfriends is a long-established pattern in this family, where male infidelity and unhappy marriages have occurred in previous generations.

Parker and Eadie work well opposite each other, though after six years starring in high-profile soap “All Saints,” it’s a struggle to separate Parker from her hospital-matron role in that show.

Slick contempo set from STC regular Fiona Crombie is simple, effective and functional, if a little derivative of previous work on David Williamson dramas.

First half of the play is penned by Bovell and presented from Mathew’s perspective. The second half, written by Rayson, mirrors what we’ve already seen but from Nina’s point of view. It’s a clever device, well-rendered, and it’s no fluke that the woman has the last word.

Scenes from a Separation

Sydney Opera House Drama Theater; 498 Seats; A$63 ($48) Top

Production

A Sydney Theater Company presentation of a play in two acts by Hannie Rayson and Andrew Bovell. Directed by Robyn Nevin.

Creative

Sets, Fiona Crombie; lighting, David Walters; music, Paul Charlier. Opened Nov. 6, 2004. Reviewed Nov. 7. Running time: 2 HOURS, 35 MIN.

Cast

Mathew Molyneux - Nicholas Eadie Nina Moss - Georgie Parker Darcy Molyneux - Sean O'Shea Siobhan McCardell - Sophie Gregg Sarah Moss - Emily Russell Margaret Molyneux - Sandy Gore Lawrence Clifford - Max Cullen
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more