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UK Premieres for Australian plays at the Bussey Building

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING their acclaimed production of Mrs Lowry and Son at Trafalgar Studios last Autumn, hotly-tipped director Abbey Wright and her company tackroom theatre are once again joining forces with Moya Productions to present the work of two contemporary Australian playwrights at South London’s Bussey Building.

Holiday and The Eisteddfod (May 14 to June 4) will each be performed for the first time in the UK, offering London audiences a rare opportunity to get to know the work of two of Australia’s most imaginative and dynamic writers, Raimondo Cortese and Lally Katz.

Raimondo Cortese won the Australian Leadership Award in 2010 and was described by The Age as “one of the most exciting playwrights around.” He won the Green Room award for Best Australian Writing for Holiday, a contemplative play that starts with an innocent discussion between two men and becomes an exploration of private fantasy, hidden anxiety, personal mythology and inexplicable behaviour, accompanied by baroque song.

Lally Katz is one of Australia’s most popular dramatists with three new plays premiering on major stages there in 2011 alone, making her the most performed playwright after Shakespeare that year. The Eisteddfod is a fresh, poetic farce set about an agoraphobic brother and sister who create an unsettling fantasy world inside their own flat. Following its Melbourne premiere in 2004, it transferred to the New York Fringe Festival where it won the Producers’ Choice Award.

The shows will form part of the programme for the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts which aims to bring original, quirky and brilliant talent from down under to London on the weekend from May 29 to June 1.

Actor Paul Woodson, whose credits include Three Sisters (Sean Holmes/Filter) will play Abalone in The Eisteddfod alongside Louise Collins, whose recent credits include Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Globe Theatre) as Gerture. In Holiday, Woodson will be joined by Andrew Buckley, whose recent work includes television roles in Borgia and Shameles.

Holiday and The Eisteddfod will be directed by Abbey Wright, former Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse where she worked with notable directors including Michael Grandage, Alan Rickman, Jamie Lloyd and John Tiffany. In 2013, she founded tackroom theatre to create new work. Her first production for the company, Mrs Lowry and Son, was Critics’ Choice in both The Times and The Telegraph.

Speaking about the plays, Wright said: “I feel there’s a lot of very interesting writing coming out of Australia at the moment, and much of it isn’t performed here in the UK. I wanted to share with audiences two works that I believe to be truly original in the inspiring environment of the Bussey Building.”

Tickets: Early Bird tickets, £8 – £10; general admission, £10 – £15 – from www.clfartcafe.org/. Alternatively call the Soho Theatre box office on 020 7478 0100 or on the door: Bussey Building, 133 Copeland Road, London, SE15 3SN.

Time: 7.30pm.

Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes (including interval).