One night, three women go to the theatre to see a Beckett play. Bushfires are burning in the hills outside, but inside the theatre it is time for the performance to take over.
Margot is a successful, flinty professor on the cusp of retirement, distracted by her fraught relationship with her adult son and her ailing husband.
After a traumatic past, Ivy is now a philanthropist with a seemingly perfect life.
Summer is a young drama student, an usher at the theatre, and frantically worried about her girlfriend whose parents live in the fire zone.
While the performance unfolds on stage, so does the compelling trajectory that will bring these three women together, changing them all.
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Women are at the centre of this fiercely intelligent novel. Formally bold, it is also humane, playful, absorbing and companionable.
Graceful, complex, intriguing. I read from start to finish almost without looking up, and suspect I will be carrying these characters with me for some time yet. A brilliant contribution to Australian fiction. Bravo, Claire Thomas.
‘Restrained and adventurous at once, The Performance is a potent meditation on the private intensity of women’s lives. An enigmatic and elegant novel that explores the power of art in revealing us to ourselves.