It’s like – a war!
The battlefield is a coastal pub known as SIPS.
Bar manager Darren Foster opens an angry and threatening email from a nearby resident. Last night was his greatest success in five years: nearly a thousand punters came to see a major Triple J act, and Darren’s bold decision to embrace live music has finally paid off. It was loud, a bin was kicked over, a brakelight smashed, the authorities have been notified and Darren is in the shit.
He needs to introduce drastic measures that will keep the pub afloat without destroying its unique character – including its status as the last live music venue in town. What follows will be a long and passionate battle – vicious, triumphant and often hilarious. Staff members, bands, fans, barflies, residents, police and rival hotels each have their own vested interests in Sips and will go to any length to get their way.
SIPS is a half-hour comedy-drama that uses a continuous narrative structure. The stories are told from the perspective of five of its key bar staff:
Darren is 32 years old, suave, laconic, dry and he does not suffer fools. After investing his life savings into Sips he now faces financial ruin. He plays by the rules – as long as he can bend them and he returns most bullshit with interest.
Lachlan, 24, is a former mid-level soap actor who recently squandered his chance in Hollywood with a three-month bender. He is at rock bottom: bitter, cynical and jaded. He finds live bands old-fashioned, preferring DJs and club culture. Lachlan is suspected of being a mole who could be sabotaging all efforts in the fight to save Sips.
Sarah, mid-twenties, is a foxy, hedonistic blonde who sees Sips as her workplace and her playground. While she appears ditzy, she is a sharp electrical apprentice who can out-wire the tradies and out-drink the musicians – and then take them home.
Sam, early twenties, is a law student and Lachlan’s oldest (and only) friend. He is hardworking and grateful for his job, no matter how menial the tasks. He is smooth with the women and can talk music, sport and current affairs with anybody.
Josie, early twenties, is a beautiful bundle of nerves. She attracts as much lustful attention as Sarah, but does not want it. She lives to work to save for a backpacking trip, and squeezes every possible shift out of Darren. She is a tightarse and is a stickler for procedure. Her Catholic guilt can sometimes work overtime and she becomes ostracised throughout the battle for refusing to lie, cheat or steal for Sips.
The death of live music and the changing face of the Australian hotel are issues that generate passionate debate, and which provide a powerful catalyst for the sexual and professional tensions that drive the narrative of SIPS. It is the eternal struggle between young and old, work and leisure, tradition and progress all played out in theatre of the iconic Aussie pub—a stage not immune to change, and one on which we have all played, on one side of the bar or the other.