Photo by Dave Quinn

Photo by Dave Quinn

Sometimes, once in a while, there’s a play that falls into my inbox that completely opens up a new world. The world of the play is either fantasitical or familiar… and the language bubbles and delights or floats softly whispering to me through out the day. The new world of a new play sometimes beckons a new colleague and sometimes even a friendship.

Crushed is one of those plays.

I came across it in 2010, and two years on, and after a coffee, and a showing, and some time… I have lost touch (somewhat) with the play (which is now in the very capable and delightful hands of Erin Thomas) but not with the writer. And so it is with great anticipation I eagerly await the great reveal of Crushed next week at New Theatre.

Some may know that I did some of my growing (up) in a small town in country NSW and nearby was the town where I went to high school: Woolgoolga.

Some facts about Woolgoolga:

* The town billboards read:
“Woolgoolga: A hard name to say, a great place to stay” and “Woolgoolga: the missing piece of paradise.”

* Woolgoolga is surrounded by banana fields.

* The locals call it “Woopi.” When I lived there, I called it “hell.”

* Some of the Coffs Harbour high school kids referred to us as “Woopi scum” a friendly rivalry.

* There is a large sikh population – hence why there is a mini Taj Mahal and a Sikh Temple on the highway as you pass through from Coffs Harbour to Grafton.

* My parents still live in the house (north of Woolgoolga) I lived in as a teenager and it’s where I head to once a year (usually for 3 days) each Christmas.

* Woolgoolga had only one cafe worth visiting when I was a teen – called “Possums” – the ancient ladies would present you with a “mug of chino” with what I refer to as “country foam” (frothed milk that sits high and proud above the rim of the mug covered in brown dust (chocolate.))

I have very complex feelings about the place – associated with my teenage life… and so when asked by Melita to write about “Sweet Sixteen” I could only think of Woolgoolga…

Crushed is a complex and yet very familiar play for me and the thing that excited me the most was the feelings around homecoming and reunion. Pinter knows about coming home. So does Melita Rowston.

It’s been a few moons since Sydney last had one of her plays light up a stage and splash its light on the audience. So this production, in and of itself is a type of homecoming too.

So here is the blog that is my response to Rowston’s “homecoming” play.



In the summer of 1988, ‘Sunny Girl’ Susie turned sweet sixteen. Her boyfriend Jason gave her a Poison t-shirt, her best friend Kelly gave her a name-necklace, and Kelly’s boyfriend Dazza gave her a handful of pills.

That night Susie Greene disappeared and was never seen again.

Twenty-two years later, the blood splattered t-shirt of the missing schoolgirl is unearthed in the scrub and Jason, Kelly and Dazza are brought back together for the bleakest of high school reunions. As the police uncover more evidence, Susie’s oldest friends are forced to confront their memories of a night they’d hoped to leave buried in their adolescence forever.

CRUSHED is a darkly humorous murder mystery/whodunit, a fast-paced, acerbic Gen X ride that drags the ‘lost child’ of Australian myth into the 21st century. This daring and imaginative play captures the spirit of the 80s with ironic hindsight and explores the sinister violence that lurks beneath the sun-bleached facade of Australia’s ‘she’ll be right’ culture.

New Theatre is very excited to be presenting this World premiere, in association with Chester Productions, as the first play for The Spare Room 2012 – our season of co-productions with three of Sydney’s leading independent companies.

Phone Bookings 1300 13 11 88 *$5.95 booking fee per transaction for phone bookings only

Director Lucinda Gleeson | Producer Jennifer Campbell
Cast Sean Barker, Lucy Miller and Jeremy Waters
Set & Costume Designer Eliza McLean | Lighting Designer Richard Whitehouse | Sound Designer Shane Choi
Stage Manager/Operator Victor Areces | Dramaturg Erin Thomas | Photographer Ian Barry
PERFORMANCE TIMES: Tues – Sat @ 8pm, Sun @ 5pm

TICKET PRICES: Full $30 | Concession $25 | Groups (10+) $25 | Previews (16 & 17 May @ 8pm) $15 | Student Rush $17
Cheap Tuesdays – “Pay What You Can” $10 minimum (conditions apply)

RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes

Photo by Leah McGirr

Photo by Leah McGirr