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Hubris & Humiliation — Sydney Theatre Company

The world of Jane Austen meets Sydney's gay scene in what deserves to be the feel-good hit of the summer — and a future classic of contemporary Australian theatre.
By Nik Addams and Suz Tucker
January 26, 2023
By Nik Addams and Suz Tucker
January 26, 2023

What do you get if you cross Muriel's Wedding and Kath & Kim with a healthy dollop of Jane Austen-inspired 19th century charm? The answer to that question you probably never thought you'd ask would be Hubris & Humiliation, a joyous new comedy by award-winning Queensland comic playwright Lewis Treston.

The Sydney Theatre Company timed the launch of the production to coincide with Sydney WorldPride and, like Pride, this show really is a celebration. It trades out Austen's drawing rooms and country estates for the leafy boulevards of post-plebiscite Sydney and Baz Luhrmann-hosted costume parties, and might be one of the best times you'll have in a theatre this year.

This whip-smart satire of love and life in Sydney's gay scene tells the story of naive wallflower Elliott, who's unexpectedly shipped off from the suburbs of Brisbane to his wealthy uncle's Kirribilli mansion to fulfil his mother's wish of marrying a wealthy man. A series of outrageous events take our protagonist and his stowaway sister Paige from Oxford Street to Berlin and back again in this high-camp exploration of love, family and commitment.

Elliott is blushed into life by Roman Delo in his Sydney Theatre Company debut. Delo beautifully anchors the play with a performance that's natural and easy, intermittently flexing between self-deprecation, doe-eyed flirtation and occasional hysteria (a consequence of drinking hard liquor). The effortlessness of Delo's Elliott is an essential foil to the supporting cast of characters who battle it out around him for the title of scene-stealer of the year.

Australian theatre veteran and acting legend, Andrew McFarlane, is a hoot as queeny Uncle Roland whose mansion is equipped with a rack of Louis XVI-era 18th Century frocks and previously belonged to a vaguely-referenced now-deceased wife.

Celia Ireland and Melissa Kahraman who play Elliott's self-described bogan mum Bernice and adopted sister Paige are riotous. And as overbearing Gen Z retail assistant who fluently speaks in the phraseology of RuPaul's Drag Race, Henrietta Enyonam Amevor inhales the scenery around her.

The fabulously feel-good rom-com is directed by Helpmann Award-winning director Dean Bryant, who returns to the Sydney Theatre Company to oversee this lively tale of one man's search for his other half — and himself. Go see it.

Images: Prudence Upton 

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