Belvoir’s Small and Tired dissolves the myth of Orestes into the contemporary world

Kit Brookman‘s Small and Tired sets up a brilliant moral challenge for its characters: to love in spite of all the shit.

Orestes (Luke Mullins, recently of the stunning Angels in America) has come back – after a long time away – to bury his father. His mother is hardened, his sister is strangely ill. He will see them, he will bury his father and then, in all likelihood, he will drift away again.

Luke Mullins. Picture by Gary Heery.
Luke Mullins. Picture by Gary Heery.

But in a bar one night, slightly drunk, he meets a gentle soul called Pylades (Tom Conroy)…

The play, clearly, springs from the myth of Orestes and the House of Atreus, but Brookman has completely dissolved the myth into the contemporary world.

Orestes, Electra (Susan Prior) and their mother Clytaemnestra (Sandy Gore) are what remains of a family that has been damanged by the big problems – and the little ones –  that make up life. Since the death of Orestes and Electra’s sister, Iphigenia, they have been estranged from their father, Agamemnon.

The result is a small play about very large things – restlessness and modern love, the rootlessness of these times, about the brokenness of our sense of family and humanity. At its heart is the idea that love is an ancient thing we have to learn and re-learn from generation to generation.

Brookman wrote Small and Tired during his tenure as associate playwright at Belvoir as part of a program run with Playwriting Australia.

Small and Tired has been especially made for the Downstairs Theatre space – an intimate space of seemingly endless possibility.

The play runs from 26 September – 20 October. For bookings and more information, call 02 9699 3444 or visit

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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