Nothing’s as bad as a good neighbour. Meet Miss Docker: the delightfully ghastly anti-hero of this celebrated Australian classic. She is relentlessly upbeat – the quintessential ‘cheery soul’.
In the imagined every-suburb of Sarsaparilla, Miss Docker is looking for somewhere to belong as her search for purpose and love leads her in a series of increasingly surreal acts. We follow her from the home of her well-meaning neighbours Mr and Mrs Custance, to the nursing home, the church and finally to the isolated grounds of the crematorium, where a cattle dog makes a final bitter judgement.
Miss Docker is one of the Nobel Laureate’s most memorable creations. She and her neighbours are as hilarious and peculiar as they are uncannily familiar. Together, this pioneering text and marvellous characters take us on a dizzying ride through suburban Australia, exploring the meaning of morality, mortality and the need for belonging.
One of Australia’s most revered writers, White uses poetic language and piercing satire to peel back the scalp of the Australian mind and reveal the underlying horror of 1960s suburbia. These acidic insights are as dark and funny now as they were upon the play’s debut in 1963.
A Cheery Soul has a storied past at STC, with acclaimed productions in 1979 (directed by Jim Sharman) and 2001 (directed by Neil Armfield), both starring Robyn Nevin in a role she made famous.
In 2018, STC Artistic Director Kip Williams takes the helm, punctuates the live action with video to tap into the subconscious mind of Miss Docker and the people she encounters, giving the audience a cinematic view into their inner lives, their dreams and their nightmares.
The magnificent Sarah Peirse (The Children, Switzerland) steps into Miss Docker’s fiercely sensible shoes in a bold new interpretation for the 21st century, joined by an outstanding ensemble including Anita Hegh (The Harp in the South), Tara Morice (The Harp in the South), Shari Sebbens (Black is the New White) and Bruce Spence (Endgame).
“[A Cheery Soul] changed what was imaginatively possible in our theatre, and provided playwrights with a new axis of creative exploration.” – The Conversation
Director: Kip Williams Featuring: Emma Harvie, Anita Hegh, Jay James-Moody, Brandon McClelland, Tara Morice, Sarah Peirse, Monica Sayers, Shari Sebbens, Nikki Shiels, Bruce Spence, Anthony Taufa Set Designer: Elizabeth Gadsby Costume Designer: Alice Babidge Lighting Designer: Nick Schlieper Composer: Clemence Williams Video and Sound Designer: David Bergman Assistant Director: Benjamin Sheen
A Cheery Soul
Drama Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 9 November – 15 December 2018 (previews continue to 8 November)
Information and Bookings: www.sydneytheatre.com.au
Image: Sarah Peirse stars as Miss Docker in A Cheery Soul – photo by Rene Vaile