Playwright Philip Cairns recent mounting of Diamonds on Plastic at the Hamilton Fringe Festival is a smart, witty and tightly written romp through the mind of Doris Nightshade, an older woman whose kept relationship one day forces her into the arms of her long-time female friend and confidant.

As Doris, played by an impassioned Margaret Lamarre, lays out her vulnerabilities as she searches for her power, she gets swigs from a whiskey bottle, lamenting about her husband in front of her dressing room mirror. 

What starts as a fantasy in Doris’s head, blossoms into a questioning of her sexuality, ultimately pushing her to risk everything in the search for love but her biggest obstacle turns out to be her own biases about gender, sexuality and love. Margaret Lamarre’s performance is as captivating as her witnessing her transform a self-centred, slightly obnoxious character into a loveable survivor worthy of admiration. Doris’s struggle with money, love and sexuality feels honest, especially when you consider Diamonds on Plastic was originally written for a drag queen, so the choice to cast Margaret in the role underscores the relatability her feminist coming of age story that, while funny, is a potent reminder that money can’t buy love, for long anyway. 

A highlight of the show was the original music by Laurie Ditchburn that bookended the performance. A genius mix of nostalgia, history, longing and living all wrapped into a song that could have easily been a billboard hit from yesteryear. While the story itself is sad, the writing wraps her dilemma in a blanket of camp, reminiscent of Arnold Beckoff’s mother in Torch Song Trilogy, which is reason alone to see this show.

Diamonds on Plastic
On until July 28, 2019, tickets:
Hamilton Fringe Festival

Photo of Margaret Lamarre by Philip Cairns‎.