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Windmill revives the wonderfully wacky Girl Asleep

InReview

ON STAGE: First it was a play, then a film, and now Girl Asleep is back on the Adelaide stage – transporting audiences to a surreal world with a rite-of-passage story that’s ‘part fairytale, part lipstick-smeared vigilante escapade’.

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“It’s the 1970s – the era of flares, disco and sharpie dancing,” says Windmill Theatre artistic director Rosemary Myers, when asked how she would pitch Girl Asleep to those who haven’t seen it.

“Greta Driscoll is very shy and plays it under the radar, so when her parents decide to throw her a party for her 15th birthday, the idea fills her with terror and the night goes from bad to very weird!”

The “very weird” sees Greta propelled into a Wonderland-like parallel world full of strange and scary characters after she falls asleep mid-party.

Windmill Theatre premiered Girl Asleep as part of a trilogy of coming-of-age plays at the 2014 Adelaide Festival, where it earned glowing reviews, with the imaginative presentation and vibrant retro staging and costumes a particular highlight (you had to love the purple wallpaper; the short shorts, perhaps not so much).

The play went on to be adapted into a film which screened in 25 countries and won a swag of awards, including most popular feature at the 2015 Adelaide Film Festival, and it was remounted as a play a year later at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre.

Myers, who directs the play, says one of the motivations for presenting it again in Adelaide is that the original season here was relatively short.

It is a play we love and we wanted to give a wider Adelaide audience the chance to see it.

“Being a new original work, remounting it gave us the opportunity to tighten up the story.

“Some of the recorded voiceover is now live narration and we now have some new actors – Sheridan Harbridge and Antoine Jelk, as well as Lois Bryson and Eva Zurak, who play ‘Young Greta’ – joining original cast members Ellen Steele, Matt Whittet and Amber McMahon.

“We’ve also changed the layout in the theatre so the audience is even more in on the action.”

Myers believes the show has struck a chord with audiences because of its strong focus on friendship and family, and the “awesome characters” created by writer Matthew Whittet. Aimed at audiences aged 14-plus, it’s been enjoyed by both teenagers and adults.

“The rites-of-passage story from childhood to teenage life is a very significant transition for lots of people.” Myers says.

“Also, the show is heaps of fun, with some great staging, original music and brilliant performances. Amber McMahon won a Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Janet, and they’re all just such a joy to watch on stage.”

Girl Asleep is playing at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Space Theatre until September 21.

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