Inside Southbank Theatre, The Sumner.

Production Content Guide

About the Production Content Guide

Each play description below indicates whether there are acts, language or behaviour that may have an impact on some audience members (for example, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity) and whether those occasions are made reference to, described or enacted.

Please note: the following information also contains ‘spoilers’ which may impact on your experience of the production.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
By Simon Stephens, adapted from the novel by Mark Haddon
Directed by Marianne Elliot

Christopher John Francis Boone, 15, discovers that his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, has been killed with a garden fork [the dog with a fork through it is seen as you enter the auditorium]. Though severely limited by fears, often overwhelmed by the world and very distressed when touched [enacted throughout], Christopher works to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington. He records all his discoveries in a book which he shares with his school teacher, Siobhan, who reads it to the class. Everything in it is true and Christopher cannot lie – indeed he is often very surprised at the oddities displayed by all the people around him. Siobhan, his teacher, is impressed by the story but is also encouraging of his gift for mathematics. Christopher lives with his father Ed, a widower and boiler engineer, in very modest circumstances. Relentless in his pursuit of the ‘murderer’, and expressly against his father’s wishes, Christopher meets resistance from neighbours, is arrested then released, and uncovers enough secrets to follow a trail (and catch the train on his own) to London. He uncovers his parent’s relationship with Wellington’s parents, the Shears–his mother’s affair Mr Shears and his father’s failed friendship with the now single Eileen Shears. This discovery leads another other major piece of detection, his mother is not dead but alive and has been trying to communicate with him since his parents separated (there’s a trove of letters Ed has hidden!). She now lives with Mr Shears in London. Christopher and his pet rat Toby travel to London, and away from his father, who admits to murdering Wellington to hurt the Shears. Ed has also struck Christopher [enacted in Act One], insisting that he cease his quest. Christopher’s mother Judy, however, does her best to welcome him back in to her life; while Ed attempts a reconciliation by giving him a puppy. The play ends with Christopher passing his university entrance exam.

Some mild coarse language, a strong moment of violence, mild sexual references, the use of strobe lighting, smoke effects, high intensity video & light effects, and loud sound effects. Recommended for ages 11+.

  • A strong moment of violence – Christopher’s father Ed strikes him on stage
  • Use of strobe lighting – Strobe lighting is prominent in the opening scenes of the production, and again in Act 2 shortly after the interval
  • High intensity video & light effects, and loud sound effects – Most prominent in Act 2, shortly after interval

The Children

The Children
By Lucy Kirkwood
Directed by Sarah Goodes

Rose enters a rural seaside cottage looking for Hazel and Robin. Robin is not there but Hazel, who is, is less than pleased to welcome this surprise guest. It has been almost 40 years since last they spoke, and it gradually becomes clear that Hazel’s suspicion of Rose is verging on hostility. Rose seems to know her way around the cottage and, against Hazel’s instruction, blocks the toilet on using it. Bigger concerns are afoot however as the catastrophe they are living through is described– a nuclear plant meltdown, tsunami, significant radioactive contamination and calamitous loss of life. On Robin’s return, it becomes clear that he and Rose had an affair many years ago, and possibly more recently than that. Rose has not dropped by to revisit the affair but to conscript them for a mission that will mean their deaths. Yet Rose is already suffering from various forms of cancer–she has lost her breasts to the disease and has lost her hair due to further treatment. And later Robin has a coughing fit and coughs up blood [enacted] –he has concealed his physical deterioration from Hazel. The plant that failed is a plant which they built, ran and, Rose argues, is their responsibility ultimately to ‘tidy up’–not the younger scientists currently working on it, many of whom have young families. Rose and Hazel and Robin, however, have lived well, handsomely even, and must now pay the cost. The play concludes with Hazel and Robin calling their daughter to wish her farewell, then departing to start the clean-up.

Some coarse language, sexual references, use of herbal cigarettes and mature themes.

  • Mature themes – Descriptions of the effects of radioactive contamination that some viewers may find distressing

Abigail’s Party

Abigail’s Party
By Mike Leigh
Directed by Stephen Nicolazzo

It’s 1977 and Beverly invites her new neighbours, Ange and Tony, who moved into the street about a fortnight ago, over for a welcome soiree. Also invited is divorcee Sue, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is throwing a bash at their home down the road. Beverly’s husband, workaholic estate agent Laurence, arrives late from work. Their marriage clearly is strained. The soiree is forced and awkward, and a little gauche, but relatively jovial. Beverly puts Donna Summer on the turntable, stacks a plate with ‘little cheesy-pineapple ones’, plies her guests with booze, cigarettes and Demis Roussos and slow-dances her way across the shag-pile. Not surprising then that she and Laurence start sniping at each other. As Beverly serves more drinks and the alcohol really kicks in, Beverly flirts more and more overtly with a tight-lipped Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. As the kid’s party down the way gets out of hand, so does the get-together, descending from comedy to drama to tragedy. After a tirade about art, Laurence suffers a fatal heart attack [enacted].

Contains coarse language, sexual references, use of herbal cigarettes and cigars and smoke effects.

Hungry Ghosts

Hungry Ghosts
By Jean Tong
Directed by Petra Kalive

A young woman muses on two events that have shattered her confidence in the world: the loss of MH370, and the loss of billions of dollars from the public purse in the Malaysian 1MDB scandal. As a young, queer Chinese Malaysian Australian woman, proud of her heritage yet not at home anywhere and who keenly feels the uncertainty of her own identity, she is intrigued, perplexed and tormented by the world in which she finds herself. She tries rationally to render these losses [air crashes are described in some detail] but such reckoning only serves to beg more questions and exacerbate her uncertainty– it could have been her on-board MH370, and her ‘home’ is run, in her opinion, by a fundamentally corrupt government, a government that will neither recognise her sexual identity nor her sexual politics. Leaping between these three storylines–her family, MH370, 1MDB– our unnamed protagonist traverses the fault-lines of cultural gaps, differences and dissonances. She is bemused, mordantly self-aware but dogged in her pursuit of truth and certainty. The play ends as she realises that her agonising about race, sexuality and identity, politics, airline travel and corruption, is all part of entering a complex, adult life. Indeed all life is contingent and partial and we must embrace multiplicity and the heterodox in order to incite more and better discourse, and to genuinely relish life’s possibilities.

Contains coarse language, mature themes, smoke effects and loud noises. Recommended for ages 15+.

  • Mature themes – descriptions of a plane crash referencing MH370

Wild

Wild
By Mike Bartlett
Directed by Dean Bryant

Andrew is an American whistle-blower whose outrage at his government’s use of mass surveillance has made him a stateless fugitive. Holed up in a Moscow hotel, he is visited separately by two people who may be messengers from WikiLeaks offering him protection. Named in the script only as Woman and Man, and never referring, or offering, their names, neither Andrew nor we can be entirely sure of their veracity or provenance. Are they working together or against the other? Are they with Andrew or playing him? Whose interests do they represent? Much of the play is a series of robust and dynamic debates: Are we all powerless in the face of the rampant invasion of our privacy, or have we simply, and foolishly, given it away already? Do we live in a world in which faith, in religion or politics, has been abandoned for commercial gain or aspirational gain? And is the virtuous whistle-blower Andrew driven by altruism or ego, rage or vanity? And has the US now revealed its cards–that its foundation on freedom has simply masked a fierce lust for total control of its citizenry? Are all our global institutions on the verge of, if not total collapse, then utter moral bankruptcy? The play concludes with the entire set literally turning upside-down [enacted].

Contains coarse language, theatrical smoke and haze, use of herbal cigarettes, and strobe lighting.

  • Theatrical smoke and haze – low level haze is used throughout the production
  • Strobe lighting – Strobe lighting effects occur during scene transitions, and last for approximately 30 seconds each.

The House of Bernarda Alba

The House of Bernarda Alba
By Patricia Cornelius, adapted from the play by Federico Garcia Lorca
Directed by Leticia Caceres

The Alba household is in grieving as their mining tycoon patriarch has died. All four of the daughters have been called home to dusty, regional Australia to pay their respects to the dead man. And also to witness the real power-house behind the family, Bernadette Alba, assert total control. The family company has been stripping the earth of its resources for years, but a legal quirk, long-hidden, could see the Alba house destitute. Angela, the oldest, and plainest of the daughters is their only hope. Always the odd one out–a daughter from Alba’s first marriage–Angela, and Alba to her horror, discovers that on the patriarch’s death all the companies, real estate and business affairs, revert to Angela. By marrying her to local heart-throb, Peter Romano, Alba can regain control because he will do her bidding. It is a risky plan, but all that Alba has. The women bicker, banter, play dress-ups, humour their crazy old Nan, but mostly fume and ruminate, loathing being home cooped up in the infernal heat, as the deal is slowly done. It comes apart however as Adele, the youngest, has been sleeping with Peter so Alba must strike a new deal for her family business. Adele is crushed under its weight and takes her own life. [This act is referred to but takes place off stage]. As the Alba household is again gripped by chaos and uncertainty Bernadette demands that no one is to cry and that there must be silence.

Contains coarse language, sexual references, mature themes and use of herbal cigarettes.

  • Mature themes – Adele’s suicide is referred to in the final scene

Gloria

Gloria
By Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Lee Lewis

We are in the office of a serious New York City periodical where veteran journalists, interns, aspiring novelists and young grad writers with opinions tear each other’s integrity, talent and intellectual pretension to shreds while trying to claw their way up the corporate and artistic ladder and get the latest obit copy in. Today’s discussion topic–other than the hardy perennial one of the death of journalism–is the party that the office loser Gloria threw the night before, which no-one went to but Dean. Gloria is bitter and angry and all her colleagues try not to laugh in front of her, or directly at her.

The Act ends with Dean hearing screaming, then gunshots, before witnessing two of his co-workers getting shot by Gloria. One is shot in the back and the other is shot in the face, and then again once she is on the floor. Dean is back up against some filing cabinets when Gloria thanks him for coming to her party. She then shoots herself in the head in front of him. The stage direction reads: Blood splatters everywhere. [This violent act is both referred to and enacted.]

Act 2 see two of the survivors talking about breakdown, bidding wars and body bags, their feelings and non-disclosure agreements, their experience and exploitation, their trauma and their profits; and another survivor carve out her book deal. In these discussions the tragedy is referred to often and in some detail. The final scene is set in a Hollywood production studio where the most successful memoir is being turned into a movie. [Various interpretations of the violent act are canvassed in discussion.]

Coarse language, sexual references and a scene depicting graphic violence, gun shots and theatrical blood. Recommended for ages 16+.

  • A scene depicting graphic violence, gun shots and theatrical blood – Act 1 concludes with a shooting that is enacted on stage and referred to throughout the production

An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Dean Bryant

Lady Chiltern is throwing a soiree where guests banter, bicker and gossip about society and politics in late Victorian London. Lady Markby, a matron of enormous wit and charm, arrives with a mysterious stranger, Mrs Cheveley. She is a woman with a plan. A former schoolmate of Lady Chiltern’s, she holds a secret about her husband – Sir Robert, a politician of renowned integrity and moral uprightness. Over 24 hours Robert must choose between telling his wife the scandalous secret on which their fortune is built, therefore more than likely losing her love, and his reputation; or to concede to the blackmail of Mrs Cheveley, remain in Parliament, but commit perjury. Luckily their best friend, the Oscar Wilde-esque dandy Lord Goring, is au-fait with the workings of Mrs Cheveley and manages to restore order to the household, snaring himself a delightful fiancée in the process.

Coarse language and sexual references.

A Doll’s House, Part 2

A Doll’s House, Part 2
Lucas Hnath
Directed by Sarah Goodes

This new play picks up after 15 year’s after Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic play, A Doll’s House, concludes. It was a play which changed everything: it was realist and in the common tongue, not verse, and it created modern drama. It also attacked commonly held views, rather than ultimately upholding them. The play famously ends with Nora walking out on her husband and young children, slamming the door behind her. Now she has returned because she needs Torvald, her husband, to sign their divorce papers. In discrete difficult and direct conversations Nora is interrogated by, in turn, Torvald, the house-keeper and nanny of their child, Anne Marie, and her now-grown daughter, Emmy. Nora has returned a wealthy author–from writing scandalous works penned under a nom de plume, often calling for the abolition of marriage–but her fortune is in peril, and her interests may be rendered null and void, possibly even criminal, unless Torvald grants her a divorce. Pleasantries and recriminations sting the air as the profound and joyous rubs shoulders with fury and bewilderment.

Coarse language and sexual references.

The Architect

The Architect
By Aidan Fennessy
Directed by Peter Houghton

Semi-retired couple Helen, and lawyer husband John, hire Lennie, against John’s better judgement, to look after Helen while John goes overseas for a fortnight. Helen is ill and though John’s departure only brief, he wants to ensure that all remains well and that her needs are well-met. We, and Helen, soon discover that Lennie, while utterly not of their social class and with no actual qualifications for the job-to-hand, is a restless, curious, unpredictable soul who is a surprisingly brilliant companion for Helen. He loves to cook, is a good handy-man and surprises her with his tenderness, love of music, kindness and ability to live in the moment. Lennie asks, only at the close of Act One, what actually ails Helen—as it is not immediately apparent—and she admits to a terminal disease. Helen later reveals that she has in her possession an illegally imported drug to end her life at her choosing, and she and Lennie discuss assisted dying.

On the arrival of Helen’s outraged son Jeremy in Act Two Lennie’s past is unearthed: he is worse than just homeless and hopeless, he has a significant criminal record. His personal history is far murkier than Lennie has previously intimated–his beloved brother did not simply die due to complications after a car accident. The car was driven instead by a drunken underage Lennie who later dispatched his brother in a desperate lunge for a lump-sum payout. Lennie denies this version of events. John has returned early to catch the end of this and demands Lennie depart. When Helen soon becomes seriously ill Lennie returns to take Helen’s life, with her express consent [enacted].

Coarse language and mature content.

  • Mature content – strong thematic references to death and an actual assisted suicide depicted on stage.

Astroman

Astroman
By Albert Belz
Directed by Sarah Goodes
Associated Director, Tony Briggs

It is 1983 and Jim Djalu has a cool Redline BMX, can do a Rubix cube in a flash, has all the high scores on Donkey Kong Jr, Galaga and Pac Man and has just moved to Geelong. And his twin brother Sonny is already in the reps for footy. They do face jeopardy though–not only their mean, break-dancing older sister Natalie, and tough-talking Mum Michelle (their Dad is away working on Karratha) but Mick Jones, town bully. After an altercation over the BMX Mr Pavlis, the video arcade proprietor, steps in and saves the twins from Mick Jones’ menace. As recompense Michelle makes Jim work at the ‘Astrocade’ and both he and Mr Pavlis discover Jim’s skills with circuit boards and programming. Later Mr Pavlis proposes a video game competition–a World Championship for Geelong, ‘Video game capital of the World’. Jim wins the competition, Michelle and Mr Pavlis start investigating posh grammar schools in Melbourne for Jim and Natalie’s dance troupe excels launching the Championship. Second-placed Mick Jones isn’t finished with the Astrocade though and he later trashes it. Mr Pavlis seeing his future in ruins and his past shattered–his beloved wife died recently, leading to his overuse of ouzo – confronts Mick, giving his shotgun to him and demanding that he do what Mr Pavlis cannot. [Threatening use of a weapon is enacted]. Mick bursts into tears –witnessed by Jimmy and Sonny. Eventually a penitent Mick comes to help them, with Mr Pavlis, rebuilding of the Astrocade. The play ends with Jim securing a scholarship, Mick getting sweet on Natalie, Jim’s Dad returning and all being well in the world.

Coarse language, strong violence and sexual references.

  • Strong violence – Includes threatening use of a shotgun

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night,
Or what you will
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Phillips

Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are separated in a shipwreck off the coast of Illyria. Disguising herself as a young man, Cesario, in order win favour at Court, she impresses the Duke Orsino that she can help woo Olivia, his love. It is an unrequited love however as Olivia refuses to be entertained, see men or engage with the world until seven years have passed to grieve the loss of her father and brother. Working as a go-between ‘Cesario’ ‘fails’ in his love-quest because Olivia falls for ‘him’. Olivia’s household itself is riven between those who enjoy revels–forces led by Sir Toby Belch– and Olivia’s dour steward, Malvolio. As a ruse, and as revenge against Malvolio’s killjoy nature, Sir Toby and Olivia’s handmaiden Maria, fool both houseguest and suitor Sir Andrew Aguecheeck, and Malvolio with respect to Olivia’s affections. Malvolio, smitten by Olivia, humiliates himself by acting a fool, observed by the servants. Using this as grounds for insanity, they lock him up to continue their revels. Meanwhile Sebastian, Viola’s brother, did not die at sea and makes his way to Orsino’s court, ending up ultimately at Olivia’s house as well. Cesario has a duel with Sir Andrew [enacted], Olivia marries Sebastian thinking him Cesario, Orsino appears and is furious, Sir Toby marries Maria, Viola appears as herself, all are confounded–except for the imprisoned Malvolio who swears vengeance – but all is well when Orsino and Viola marry.

Some coarse Elizabethan language, mild violence and mild sexual references.