Sordid Lives is the story of the overwhelming weirdness of small-town American life and the empowerment of its women, through the discovery of pink sequins and two-barrelled shotguns, and the attempts of those men who are less comfortable with this macho culture to adjust to Texan standards of masculinity.
One, Brother Boy, has been institutionalised in an attempt to cure his chronic transvestitism. He compensates by living his life as if he is Tammy Wynette. Another escaped to New York and went through several decades of therapy. The women of the story, however, more than compensate. From the ballsy therapist in the mental institution who advocates 'masturbation therapy' as part of her treatment course for homosexuality, eventually offering herself up to her overwhelming ambition to 'get on Oprah,' to the women who hold up their respective life's partners with their own pieces until they agree to put on make up and cross-dress, gender boundaries are well and truly mixed up.
As is the sordidness, as the title suggests, of their lives. The atmosphere is clammy, the food is real, lard-smeared and eaten on set. At one point somebody applies lipstick to a corpse. What saves the play from becoming a cliched combinaion of 'My Name is Earl' and 'Six Feet Under' is the enthusiasm of the performers, some killer lines, and their inability to take themsevles seriously. 'Didn't think I'd make it, did you Mama?' declares Brother Boy, aka Tammy Wynette, to his mother's coffin, giving it a kick for good measure.