UK comedian play about Goulburn Court runs in London theatre

Holly Joyce and Cheska Hill-Wood in Mike Shpeherd's play 'Goulburn". Photo: supplied.
Holly Joyce and Cheska Hill-Wood in Mike Shpeherd's play 'Goulburn". Photo: supplied.

The decision to write a play about Goulburn Court was a symbolic decision according to UK stand up comedian and BBC comedy writer Mike Shepherd. 

The play ‘Goulburn’, selected to run as part of Untold Series in the Arcola Theatre in London, brings together seven new diverse performances under the direction of theatre producer Mark Lindow. 

The time is 1956 and Newell, a proud working class woman, denies murdering her husband and children and is set to be hanged. 

Condemned to a cell, it is a final visit by the elegant yet strategic Kearney, whose own motives are less than charitable, which unite the two women’s ( played by Holly Joyce and Cheska Hill-Wood) mission. 

It was a story from Shepherd’s grandmother about a Greek family evicted from their homes that struck him, sharpening his focus to this part of the world. 

“Part of the immigrant experience is to travel vast distances, often only to find that the same power structures and inequities that you were hoping to escape have been recreated at your destination,” he said.

"Setting the play in Goulburn appealed to me since it was the first inland city in Australia, so it had a kind of symbolism as somewhere that looked to the interior of the country as opposed to the larger, outward facing coastal cities.”

Previously produced by The Comedians Theatre Company at the Pleasance in London, Shepherd wrote the one-act play over a two week period in November 2016.

His first play ‘Camelopardis’ follows the journey of a giraffe arriving in 18th century North London. His most recent work, comic monologue ‘A Man for All Seasonings’, was performed by Jack Baldwin at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“I've really enjoyed working on this play, and I hope I have created a pair of strong, but very different female roles. I love history, and in theatre, using the past provides an interesting way to examine the present,” he said. 

“While the play is not an out and out comedy, I hope there are some witty lines and a few dark laughs in there, and the ending should hopefully shock and amuse people in equal measure.”

This is the fifth edition of Untold Stories and is run as part of the SLAM Festival.

‘Goulburn’ was performed at the Arcola Theatre last weekend. 

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