Hotel Sorrento


A play by Hannie Rayson

Lecturer: Tracey Sanders


In future, the lectures on Australian drama will be condensed into point form. More information will be gained by attending the lecture. These notes will provide you with enough material for examination purposes but please be warned, you should attend every lecture to gain the full benefit from this advanced drama unit.

(Reference source: Rayson, H. 1995. Hotel Sorrento, Currency:Sydney)

  • Hannie Rayson explores the idea of feminism and the role of men in the 1990's through the exploration of the relationships of three very different sisters, Meg, Pippa and Hilary.

  • Rayson is concerned with posing questions rather than answering them. She wants to activate and engage us as an audience inviting us on a journey of genuine enquiry.

Rayson poses a number of questions:

  1. What changes have taken place during the last decade?
  2. Where is the line between a healthy nationalism and blind patriotism?
  3. Is our literature profound and passionate?
  4. How far have we come in terms of our quest to articulate an Australian identity?
  • In this play we see a weaving of cultural identity through several layers of narrative - an exploration of ideas about loyalty or betrayal from the perspective of Meg's response to the country of her birth, her fiction and her family

  • As a piece of theatre, rhythm is important here - the sharing of information, pieces of comedy and pathos, the juxtaposition of short scenes to form the larger picture

  • Characterisations are dramatic and contradictory at times and can only be understood through an appreciation of the internal conflicts and changes which occur throughout the play

  • There are a number of recognisable character types - a 'Pom' who reveals an unconditional love, the hard edged New Yorker advertising executive who reveals within a frightened girl craving for attention of her older sisters and an outspoken feminist who has a centre both fragile and lonely

  • There are important 'characters' : Marge, who both partakes and observes the dramatic action. She provides an 'audience' to offer comment on the events of daily life

  • The theme of 'ownership' is very important here - the family becomes a metaphor for Australia. Just as a family must look at itself in a new light from time to time, so must a nation. The question is posed: 'How much should we criticise our family or indeed, our nation?'

  • For Meg, there is a love/hate relationship with her family and her country. She questions the male dominance of this country. Through Meg, Rayson invites us to move forward into the nineties proclaiming the strengths of women whilst gently encouraging reconciliation




© Copyright Dr Tracey Sanders 2006