Thomas Murray and the Upside Down River

Griffin Theatre Thomas Murray and the Upside Down RiverReg Cribb’s epic new play evokes the expansive, isolating beauty of rural Australia, about a man ravaged by drought, family secrets and love. Cribb’s very first play, The Return, graced the Griffin stage in 2001, and following on from taking $7.2mill at the local box office for Last Cab to Darwin, he returns as part of the 2016 Griffin Independent season to present Thomas Murray and the Upside Down River.

The Murray family have been farming the land along the Darling River for five generations. For Tom Murray, it’s all he’s ever known. When his childhood friends Lucy and Billy reappear, deep friendships are tested, and secrets, long buried, are finally awakened – and Tom must make the long journey down-stream to reconcile for past wrongs and to fight for his wife.

Thomas Murray and the Upside Down River is about the destruction of our environment, played in parallel with a story of indigenous relations past and present. It involves deep friendships and profound betrayals. The love triangle set on a drought-stricken Darling River takes a personal and existential look at the ongoing emotional costs of climate change and a long drought about memories, dreams and desires.

Based in West Australia, Cribb is a highly-awarded writer for both stage and screen. His plays have been performed both nationally and internationally. Last Cab to Darwin and The Return / Last Train to Freo have been adapted to feature films including award-winning Bran Nue Dae. He has twice won the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and the W.A Premier’s Literary award, and also won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award.

In 2006 he was nominated for an AFI and a Critics Circle Award for his screenplay of Last Train To Freo, a feature film directed by Jeremy Sims and produced by Sue Taylor. The screenplay was nominated for an AFI award for Best Adapted Screenplay and won the 2005 WA Premier’s Script Award.  The play was shortlisted for the 2001 QLD Premiers Literary Award.

Chris Bendall, currently CEO of Critical Stages and Australia’s leading contemporary theatre directors, will direct the production. He has worked as a director on over 50 productions during the past 15 years, including most recently The Magic Hour, one of three finalists for the 2014 Tour of the Year Drover Award. The other key credit is: Winner, WA Equity Awards 2009 and 2011 for Best Director. Bendall was Artistic Director for Deckchair Theatre in Fremantle (2008-2012) and for Theatre @ Risk in Melbourne (2001-2007).

Thomas Murray and the Upside Down River was commissioned by MTC, developed by PWA’s national script workshop and shortlisted for the Patrick White Award.

Director: Chris Bendall  Featuring: Grant Cartwright, Vanessa Downing, Nicholas Papademetriou, Francesca Savige, Bjorn Stewart  Set & Costume Designer: Dann Barber  Composer and Sound Designer: Kingsley Reeve  Lighting Designer: Alexander Berlage  Video Designer: Kirrilly Brentnall  Co-Producers: Pippa Bailey and Chris Bendall

Thomas Murray and the Upside Down River
SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross
Season: 16 – 30 January 2016 (previews: 13 & 14 January)
Bookings: (02) 9361 3817 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of Griffin Theatre Company