The Sydney premiere of Malthouse Theatre’s radical reimagining of Kenneth Cook’s cult Australian novel Wake in Fright comes to the Sydney Opera House Playhouse this February as part of its UnWrapped series. Under the direction of Declan Greene (Sisters Grimm, Pompeii, L.A, Blackie Blackie Brown) audiences will be transported to an unsettling, visceral evocation of claustrophobia in the outback.
Tightly buttoned young school teacher John Grant is well-read, but an outback misadventure strands him – cashless and jobless – in the harsh and remote Aussie outpost of Bundanyabba. He makes new ‘mates’ who are quick with a drink, but with every skol a dark violence lurches forward. Are these blokes fair-dinkum, or is there something more sinister at the heart of this little Aussie mining town?
Fresh from a sold-out Melbourne Malthouse season, Greene ingeniously conjures the nightmarish world of Wake in Fright in a one-person show performed by the always-evocative Zahra Newman. Brilliantly textured by a sonic assault from art-electronica band, friendships, and inventive staging by lighting and projection designer Verity Hampson, Wake in Fright is a gripping dive into the boozy entanglements of one of Australia’s greatest horror tales.
Sydney Opera House Director of Programming and UnWrapped Curator, Fiona Winning, says: “We’re thrilled to present the Sydney premiere of this compelling stage adaption of Kenneth Cook’s seminal 1961 tale. Writer and director Declan Greene’s collaboration with one-woman powerhouse Zahra Newman creates a brutal gothic world. Their mix of innovative staging and daring script fuses mateship and menace, amicability and depravity. Prepare for Wake in Fright to linger long after you’ve left the theatre.”
Greene has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting talents to emerge from the independent theatre scene in recent years. Previous productions include Moth, Pompeii, L.A., Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography, I Am a Miracle, The Homosexuals, or ‘Faggots’ and Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death. He also runs queer independent theatre company Sisters Grimm with collaborator Ash Flanders and has directed and co-created all their shows to date. Newman appeared in the original Australian production of the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon and Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She has garnered multiple Helpmann and Green Room award nominations for her work as a performer.
★★★★½ “Brilliant, bold and deeply unnerving theatre.” – The Age
★★★★½ “An utterly affecting sensory ambush.” – Beat
WHAT: Wake in Fright
WHEN: Tuesday 11 February – Saturday 15 February 2020
WHERE: Playhouse, Sydney Opera House
The full UnWrapped March series will be announced in January 2020.