Following on from the recent critical acclaim of her direction of The Trouble with Harry at The Seymour Centre, the unstoppable, multi-award winning Kate Gaul is next turning her hand to direct Patrick White’s gothic comedy, The Ham Funeral – one of the most challenging and legendary plays in Australia’s theatrical history!
Originally published in 1948 by Australia’s only Nobel Prize winning writer, Patrick White – The Ham Funeral has come to be regarded as one of the most intriguingly original plays in Australian theatre history. Part vaudeville, part lyric poem, and part gothic drama, it is an unnervingly dark and vulgar investigation of the human condition that remains poignant to this day.
Celebrated director, Kate Gaul (The Trouble with Harry, Good With Maps, Misterman) and a stellar cast of some of Australia’s boldest, bravest performers bring this eerie, black comedy to life for Griffin Independent at the SBW Stables Theatre.
Inspired by White’s own recollections of the seedy world of London slum-living, The Ham Funeral is set in a squalid, inner-city boarding house, where a naïve young poet is drawn into the strange world of the dwelling’s landlords, the gluttonous, porcine and aptly-named, Mr and Mrs Lusty.
When her husband dies suddenly, Mrs Lusty announces a lavish funeral feast in his honour and recruits the young man to round up some truly grotesque relatives to attend the grand event. Despite her just-dead husband, Mrs Lusty begins a relentless seduction of the poet, entangling him in a dangerous and depraved sexual game with comically tragic consequences.
The Ham Funeral was un-staged for 14 years after publication and was famously rejected for the 1962 Adelaide Festival of Arts by a Board who thought it was too ‘difficult’ for the general public. Over time, however, The Ham Funeral, through appreciation for White’s masterfully poetic language, thick with wit and insight, has been recognised as a revolutionary work and considered a modernist classic that retains a sharp contemporary edge.
Gaul’s production of this iconic play does not shy away from the script’s surreal elements and larger than life characters – the show is somewhat dream-like but also recognisably Australian through a humour and audacity that Patrick White so deeply revered and revealed with every stroke of his pen.
This production of The Ham Funeral with be Siren Theatre Company’s fourth collaboration with Griffin Independent: a relationship committed to excellence, innovation and daring. Gaul’s production will act as a dazzling counterpoint to Griffin’s annual program of new plays.
“White aimed for something universal and surreal, a mix of the hilarious and brutal.” – David Marr
Director: Kate Gaul Featuring: Andy Dexterity, Eliza Logan, Carmen Lysiak, Johnny Nasser, Jane Phegan, Sebastian Robinson, Jenny Wu Assistant Directors: Phaedra Nico and Sally Dulson Production Design: Jasmine Christie Lighting Design: Hartley T A Kemp Composer/Sound Design: Nate Edmondson Vocal Coach: Carmen Lysiak
The Ham Funeral
SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross
Season continues to 10 June 2017
For more information, visit: www.sirentheatreco.com for details.
Image: The Ham Funeral – photo by Lucy Parakhina