“The play presents characters of great complexity and weaves an intriguing plot… A really interesting and original piece of writing.”Timothy Jones
Australian Theatre for Young People
What’s it about?
It is the mid 1800s – Australia – and Eloise has escaped the cruel drudgery of her convict life. Fleeing for the mountains, she makes a bargain with Grace, a terrifying giant, to care for Grace’s crippled son, Arthur, in exchange for refuge. The house is unwelcoming and eerie, but Eloise has little choice but to stay. When Grace leaves for mysterious adventures each night, the echoes of gruesome secrets ring through the house. Through conversations with Darling – a caged bird who seeks to unburden his stories – Eloise comes to understand the horror of this world and the pain of its inhabitants.
The play was written in 2008, and then received development at the World Interplay Playwrights Festival in Cairns, 2009. The work was also developed with the assistance of Playwriting Australia, through their Graduate Program within the National Script Workshop, and had a short showing at the Judith Wright Centre in Brisbane. It was directed by Marisa Gareffa, with dramaturgy by Polly Low, and featured Luke Carroll, Andrea Moor, and Hayley McElhinney.
(Grace, a 3 metre giant, has kidnapped a young convict woman and brought her home, where she discusses the girl’s fate with her bird, Darling.)
DARLING: Keep her as a servant. To prevent those little hurts.
GRACE: Are you suggesting we don’t kill her at all?
DARLING: What a novelty.
GRACE: Alive in my home?
DARLING: (to Eloise) Could you work as a servant? Or would you prefer the alternative where she leaves your skin flapping in the trees?
(Eloise looks to Grace, knowing she has very little choice here. With a look of pure distate, she curtseys.)
GRACE: Don’t speak to me as if you belong here. Vile little creature. Hiding in the night until someone opens a door.
DARLING: Shall we keep her then?
(Furious, Grace rips the last of the ropes away and takes Eloise’s bag.)
GRACE: The minute my son escapes from you is the minute I unthread your veins and let the blood spill freely.
ELOISE: (non-committal) Huh.
GRACE: You will stay here until you die. Or we all do.
(Eloise stares back, blankly, refusing to engage.)
GRACE: Little moth. Squash you and nobody even notices. Just dust on my shoe.
Go on then – find Arthur!
DARLING: You must tell Arthur. He needs to know what is happening.
GRACE: I’d sooner rip your feathers out.
DARLING: Do both.