After a stellar inaugural season last year, Deadhouse: Tales of Sydney Morgue – a true-crime, immersive theatre experience, is back this October and November with a new show and housed in a new venue – the Crypt underneath St James’ Church.
For centuries, city morgues were known as ‘deadhouses’ because bodies could not be buried in the frozen ground of winter, so were stored until the thaw. Between 1854 and 1972, Sydney’s deadhouse was the Sydney Morgue and Coroner’s Court located in George Street. Thousands of grim cases of murder and unexplained death passed through the site and into Sydney’s history.
Deadhouse: Tales of Sydney Morgue takes two such cases and brings them to life while audiences move through the eerie, neo-gothic tunnel and side rooms that comprises the Crypt underneath St James’ Church. In 2019, audiences will explore the notorious crimes of alleged husband-killer, Louisa Collins and deadly prison escapees Kevin Simmonds and Leslie Newcombe.
A thrilling mix of history, theatre and true-crime, a talented cast of ten performers in each play will draw you into experiencing these two grisly stories from Sydney’s dark and murderous past.
Louisa Collins: A Poison Crown
Season: 23 October – 9 November 2019
Set in 19th century Sydney, A Poison Crown brings to life the characters who fought for and against convicted murderer Louisa Collins. Tried four times for the deaths of her two husbands, Louisa was the last woman hanged in NSW after an all-male jury found her guilty of poisoning both men.
The Louisa Collins case captured the public’s attention and imagination – people packed the courthouse to watch all four of the ‘Botany Borgia’ murder trials. Louisa’s eventual death sentence sparked both celebration and outrage and still to this day the case is shrouded in mystery and great doubts are held about Louisa’s guilt.
Simmonds & Newcombe: The Deadly Run
Season: 20 – 30 November 2019
In 1959, two convicts, Kevin Simmonds and Leslie Newcombe, undertook an audacious escape from Sydney’s notorious Long Bay Penitentiary, leading to the biggest police hunt in NSW history involving more than 500 police-officers over several weeks.
Escaping from the central section of the gaol through a ventilation duct in the roof of the prison chapel, they spent their first night of freedom huddled in a freshly dug grave in Botany Cemetery before breaking into Emu Plains Prison Farm where they murdered a guard to steal his revolver and hide in the bush.
Due to their ability to elude capture and outfox police, the two men gained some notoriety and fame during their time on the run. Five weeks later, crowds greeted Simmonds when he was eventually brought to Sydney’s Central Criminal Court for trial.
Director: Liviu Monsted Featuring: David Attrill, Sandra Campbell, Christopher Daw, Steve Donelan, Joanna Eve, Shaun Foley, Jordan Gallegos, Mary-Anne Halpin, Wendi Lanham, Steve Maresca, Chris Miller, Liviu Monsted, Jacqui Robson, Alex Smith, Kyla Ward, Gregory J Wilken Production Design: Chevy O’Hanlon Sound and Lighting Design: Mehran Mortezaei Costumes: Susan Carveth (Genesian Theatre), Sarah Jane Freeman (The Clothes Library) Make-Up: Dale Smoothy Props: Lew McDonnell Stage Managers: Farlie Goodwin, Pierce Nicholson Assistant Stage Managers: Aaron Smith, Ella Drinkwater, Meagan Fitzpatrick Executive Producer: Stephen Carnell Producers: Amanda Asquith, Michael Dengler Writers: Gina Schien (Louisa Collins), Liviu Monsted (Simmonds & Newcombe)
Deadhouse: Tales of Sydney Morgue
The Crypt – St James’ Church, 173 King St, Sydney
Season: 23 October – 30 November 2019 (check performance and session times)
Information and Bookings: www.eventbrite.com.au
Image: Louisa Collins: A Poison Crown (supplied)
Note: The production features depictions of violence and death together with semi-nudity. A nurse will be present to assist any distressed patrons!