The Platypus at Theatre Works

by | Apr 26, 2024

This June, Theatre Works and Buckets Nijinsky Productions serve up Melbourne theatre lovers a wonderfully bleak, black comedy about the end of a relationship.

Composed of odds and ends, the platypus is a strange creature. It’s almost as though Evolution got tired one afternoon and stopped paying attention. It seems wrong. Strangely put together. A curiosity. Much like this play. It’s a platypus of a show, made up of strange and ill-fitting parts – one part audience, two parts actor, and multiple genres. It’s a simple story, but it’s not told in a simple way.

Written and directed by well-known Australian actor Francis Greenslade (Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, Winners and Losers, The Odd Couple, Shakespeare in Love), The Platypus is the story of Richard and Jessica. It’s about the crumbling fragments of their relationship and whether they can put the pieces back together. Spotlighting the public and private masks we wear through the use of a variety of theatrical genres – Oscar Wilde, Restoration Comedy, there’s even a Sondheim-inspired song! – The Platypus is a play for audiences. Written about them, for them, and with them clearly in mind while crafting the experience.

“I wanted to write a play for the people that go to the theatre”, explains Writer/Director Francis Greenslade. “When I had finished it I sent it to just about every theatre company in Australia. They all said no. And then I sent it to Dianne Toulson at Theatre Works.

I think one of the problems with some theatre companies nowadays is that they are making theatre not for the audience, but for their cohort. They make theatre so other theatre makers won’t stand in the foyer on opening night and disapprove. So, I wrote something about the audience. About their lived existence. And I wanted to make it interesting, and clever, and truthful. And I hope I’ve done that.”

Performed by lauded actors John Leary (The Good Place, Glitch, The Letdown, Upper Middle Bogan) and Rebecca Bower (The Spooky Files, Offspring, Wentworth), The Platypus brings together an outstanding team of cast and creatives including Sarah Tulloch on set and costume design, lighting design by Clare Springett, and sound design by David Franzke.

Widely recognised, actor, writer, and teacher Francis Greenslade has had an extensive career in the Australian entertainment industry. In 2018 his adaptation of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist (produced by the Sydney Theatre Company) received rave reviews and his book, How I Learnt to Act (On the way to not going to Drama School), was published by Currency Press in 2020. Playing as a part of the ‘With Theatre Works’ programming stream, The Platypus is his first original work for the theatre.

Constantly reinvigorating and reimagining the sector by providing a hotbed for artist and audience development, Theatre Works is one of Australia’s longest-running independent theatres. They fill a vital niche in the Australian cultural landscape as an artistic home and destination for artists to collaborate and create, actively highlighted by the 12 different productions playing as a part of the 2024 ‘With Theatre Works’ programming stream.

A highly anticipated premiere season in this years’ Theatre Works programming, The Platypus is running for a limited season from the 19th of June to the 6th of July in the Acland Street venue. Mark this one on your calendars – it’s not to be missed!  

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