Lee Lewis’ production of Cheryl Strayed’s book TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, as adapted by Nia Vardoulis, from the very outset, conveys that her central character, is an ordinary woman, in the process of starting a new day. We suss out that she is a writer. She takes a phone call offering her paid work to be an advice columnist.
At a bit of a loose end, she takes up the offer, and assumes the pseudonym, Sugar. The decision turns her life around. She is an ordinary woman but she shows an extraordinary gift in helping people with their problems.
Those that write to her, reaching out for her advice, are impressed with the helpfulness and clarity of the advice that she offers. Some become regular correspondents, and Sugar develops a kind of relationship with them. What makes the relationship particularly special is that Sugar doesn’t put herself on a pedestal and shares with them that she, like them, has faced huge challenges, recounting some of them, and telling them that she managed to get through them, and that they will be able to do the same. It’s these letters, these relationship, this sharing of hard earned courage, wisdom and facing hard truths that is the substance, the crux, the heart, of TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS. It makes for very relatable and poignant theatre.
The always excellent Mandy McElhinney led a great ensemble cast that included Stephen Geronimos, Nic Pier, and Angela Nica Sullen.
Lee Lewis’ staging of the play was excellent with great work by the design team; set and costume design Simone Romaniuk, lighting design Bernie Tan-Hayes and composer and sound design by Brady Watkins.
Recommended, a Queensland Theatre Company production presented in association with Trish Wadley Productions, TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kall and Nia Vardelos, adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, is playing upstairs at Belvoir Street Theatre until Saturday 2nd March 2024.