After playing to sold-out audiences around the country and unanimous critical acclaim, multi-award winning play The Secret River has continued its extraordinary success at the 2017 Adelaide Festival, selling out its season with nine performances to go.
The Adelaide premiere of Neil Armfield’s landmark theatrical Sydney Theatre Company production, presented in association with State Theatre Company of South Australia, has thrilled audiences and critics alike with its epic new open-air staging in the Anstey Hill Quarry, which sees the action unfold in front of a stunning backdrop of red cliffs and natural bushland.
Based on the international best-selling book by Kate Grenville and adapted for the stage by award-winning Adelaide-based playwright Andrew Bovell, the play also broke box office records for State Theatre Company SA as the highest grossing production and fastest selling show in the company’s history.
The news caps off a bumper first week for the Adelaide Festival, which also saw sold-out seasons of Barrie Kosky’s Saul, Canadian dance theatre work Betroffenheit, Restless Dance Theatre’s Intimate Space, Concerto Italiano’s one night only concert at the Adelaide Town Hall and Writers’ Week’s The Drunken Botanist Lunch, as well as sold-out performances of The Encounter, Wot? No Fish!, Chamber Landscapes, Gardens Speak, Lynette Wallworth’s Coral: Rekindling Venus, Annabel Crabb’s The F Word on board the Riverbank Palais, and the Riverbank Palais Long Lunch series, with box office takings across the program up 50 per cent on the same time last year.
Joint Adelaide Festival Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield, who is also Director of The Secret River, said: “The Secret River‘s season in Adelaide has proven to be the kind of festival experience that both audiences and artists hope for,” they said. “A unique and powerfully resonant story, imaginatively told, in an environment that adds depth to the story and creates a feeling of being at a rare and special event.”
“We are so delighted and grateful that Adelaide audiences and all our Festival visitors have turned this hugely ambitious undertaking into a thundering success.”
Originally produced by Sydney Theatre Company, The Secret River was a sold out smash hit when it premiered in 2013, earning a rare full house standing ovation on its opening night, followed by seasons at the 2013 Perth Festival and the Canberra Centenary celebrations. It has since won six Helpmann Awards including Best Direction for Armfield, Best New Australian Work and Best Play, and earned rave reviews in encore seasons in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
State Theatre Company South Australia Artistic Director Geordie Brookman said: “We are all extremely proud of this unique and memorable version of The Secret River. It will live long in the memories of South Australian audiences.”
The Secret River continues as part of a stellar line-up of shows heading up the Adelaide Festival’s second weekend, including Peter and the Wolf starring Miriam Margolyes alongside the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (11 & 12 March), family theatre show Magic City by Chicago’s Manual Cinema ( 11 – 13 March) and Italian performance art piece MDLSX (10 – 13 March), as well as tango dance party Argentine Tango Milonga (11 March), and a one-off concert by The Bamboos (12 March) on the Riverbank Palais, plus WOMADelaide running in Botanic Park to 13 March.
“The Adelaide Festival has gotten off to an amazing start with so many sell-out successes, said Adelaide Festival CEO Sandy Verschoor. “Now we are looking forward to even more incredible premieres and thrilling music, theatre and dance productions across the program and at our wonderful Riverbank Palais, right through to the Festival’s final day on Sunday 19 March.”
For more information and complete program, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details.
Image: The Secret River at the 2017 Adelaide Festival – photo by Shane Reid