503 Battersea Park Road
This November, the UK premiere of Angela Betzien’s award-winning The Dark Room (Best New Australian Work, Sydney Theatre Awards) will be staged at Theatre503. This intricately layered psychological thriller takes a sober look at one of the devastating issues of contemporary Australian discourse – the abuse of defenceless children.
Deep into the night, in a run-down motel somewhere in central Australia, six lost souls collide in a distant tragedy of lovesickness and social breakdown – only it’s not the same night. A teenage boy from a nearby country town longs for a stranger. Pregnant Emma longs for her husband, a country cop, drunk after his best friend's wedding. Anni, a government youth worker accompanied by a withdrawn and violent fourteen-year-old girl, longs for the dawn. As the night draws on, each of them become trapped in a dark and dangerous territory, all searching for a way out.
Directed by Audrey Sheffield (Don Juan in Soho, Wyndham’s Theatre – understudy run; We Too Are Giants, Tricycle Theatre; Dead Funny, Vaudeville Theatre – understudy run), The Dark Room draws attention to the abuse, neglect and limited social care in remote communities in Australia. Betzien wrote the play after having witnessed first-hand the shortage of accommodation for children in care in these communities.
Betzien comments, I’m thrilled that Theatre503 are producing The Dark Room. This will be the first time the play will be performed beyond Australian borders. In Australia, we have a long and dark history of neglecting, abusing and forgetting the most vulnerable in our communities and it is this disturbing reality that formed on of the starting points for the play. I hope London audiences will find The Dark Room a haunting and illuminating theatrical experience.
Paperbark Theatre’s Shaelee Rooke comments, The Dark Room thrusts us into the heart of an isolated community in the Northern Territory of Australia. While the setting may seem incredibly foreign to a London audience, the issues that are addressed in the play are frighteningly familiar – police brutality, child abuse and a lack of social justice where it is needed most. I believe this is an important play and one that should reach far beyond the white sandy beaches of Australia.