Arbus & West

by Stephen Sewell

22 February — 30 March 2019

Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio

‘Mae, you can fool the world, you can fool your friends and you can even fool yourself, but you can’t fool me…’

Approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes, including a 20 minute-interval

Event Passed

About the play

Hollywood bombshell Mae West built her career on lookin’ good – walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk – while legendary photographer Diane Arbus was famous for finding beauty in the everyday. When Diane turns up at Mae’s glistening LA apartment in 1964 to take her portrait, tensions quickly flare. Mae’s version of herself is very different to the one Diane wants to catch on film. But whose version wins out when a master of illusion meets a master of truth?

Drawing on the infamous meeting between two extraordinary women, award-winning Australian playwright Stephen Sewell imagines what might have transpired creating a power play of sexuality and intrigue.

Melita Jurisic (The House of Bernarda Alba) takes on the role of the irrepressible Mae West, with Diana Glenn (The Slap) as the pioneering Diane Arbus in this world premiere production, directed by MTC’s Associate Director Sarah Goodes (The Children).


  • Wheelchair Accessible

  • Hearing Assistance

  • Audio Described

  • Tactile Tour

  • Open Captioning

Performance Type Performance Date(s)
Audio Described Saturday 16 March at 2pm
Tuesday 19 March at 6.30pm
Tactile Tour Tactile tour at 1pm prior to the Saturday 16 March performance
Open Captioning
via screen
Saturday 23 March at 2pm
This is rated 4 out of 5 stars

'A subtle, tantalising cocktail of truth and fiction, Arbus and West goes down a treat and leaves one wanting more.'

Limelight Magazine
This is rated 0 out of 5 stars

'Sarah Goodes' production is sophisticated, thoughtful and convincing.'

The Australian
This is rated 0 out of 5 stars

'If you care about acting, you’ll be struck by the craft on display.'

The Age
This is rated 0 out of 5 stars

'Sewell has taken a significant moment in the world of entertainment and refashioned it into a drama that sparkles and entertains, but also delves beneath the performative self to the selves beneath.'

Australian Stage

Diana Glenn

Diane Arbus


Melita Jurisic

Mae West


Jennifer Vuletic



Sarah Goodes



Renée Mulder

Set & Costume Designer


Paul Jackson

Lighting Designer


Clemence Williams

Composer & Sound Designer


Jean Goodwin

Voice & Dialect Coach

Learn more about Arbus & West

Go Backstage

Fairfax Studio

100 St Kilda Road

Melbourne , Victoria 3004