Theatre-Works-Betty-Sally-McKenzie-and-Jules-Allen-photo-by-Underground-MediaA complex tale of a mother’s unresolved traumatic childhood and the echoing impact on her daughter, this highly anticipated premiere season at Theatre Works this February is an unapologetic, candid, and wonderfully amusing new work by writer and social scientist, Jules Allen.

Although never close, expat Lucy returns home to care for her ailing mother, Rose, and is launched headfirst into the unfiltered reality of her mother’s dementia.

Rose’s vivid memories of her home country Thailand and the horror of her exile find their way into her suburban Melbourne nursing home, and the boundaries between past, present, living and spiritual unravel.

As the fabric of Lucy and Rose’s fraught relationship is smashed open, Rose’s rapid decline places a sense of urgency on the many unanswered questions of the past. Inherited family trauma, cultural assimilation, loneliness, abuse, blame and misunderstanding are all laid bare.

Largely autobiographical, unapologetic, and wonderfully amusing, this premiere season unravels the complex tale of a mother’s unresolved traumatic childhood, and the echoing impact on her daughter.

Betty invites audiences on the journey as Lucy’s mother, Rose, succumbs to dementia and (although never close) Lucy finds herself in the challenging position of trying to care for her.

Weaving through an unpredictable landscape she is brought face-to-face with the harrowing nature of old age and decline, and the urgency this places on the many unanswered questions of the past.

“After 40 years of a dysfunctional, chaotic and bitter relationship with my mother, I dropped everything to care for her in her final year of life,” explains writer/actor Jules Allen. “To this day, I don’t know what provided the forgiveness to do such a thing, but the rewards were endless.”

“I felt like a helpless bystander, finally being given insight into a woman who had been an enigma to me my whole life. I promised her I would tell her story one day… and here we are,” said Allen.

Betty is the second play by Jules Allen, whose professional career as a humanitarian (both in Australia and internationally) was recognised in 2017 when she was awarded Alumnus of The Year at Southern Cross University. She has also been invited to deliver TEDx talks in Sydney and Melbourne and was featured on Australian Story in 2016.

Growing up in 70s Melbourne suburbia with a Thai-English mother, Allen had a front row seat to the cultural challenges of the time. After enduring abuse and battling addiction to have a child at 21, she then went on toadopt three more and foster 32 other children.

Among her many other achievements she now advocates for adoption reform alongside Hugh Jackman and Deborah Lee-Furness, and has coordinated the build of a shelter for women and children in the Solomon Islands.

A gifted and compelling writer, her plays work to illuminate experiences and empower voices that often go unheard.

The initial scheduled season of Betty a casualty of the 2021 Victorian Lockdown, Theatre Works now invite Melbourne’s art lovers to join them in February 2022 for the premiere of this powerful and poignant new Australian work.

Director: Iain Sinclair | Featuring: Jules Allen, Sally McKenzie | Associate Director: Steven Mitchell Wright | Production Design: Claudia Mirabello | Sound Design: Danniella Esposito | Lighting Design: Emma Lockhart-Wilson | Stage Manager: Ashleigh Walwyn | Producer: Lauren Bennett | Publicity: Eleanor Howlett (Sassy Red PR) | Writer & Creator: Jules Allen

Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Season: 17 – 26 February 2022 (preview: 16 February)
Information and Bookings:

Image: Sally McKenzie and Jules Allen – photo by Underground Media