Terror coming to the High Seas of Bondi in Toby Schmitz’s new play

The Rock Surfers are set to present the world premiere of Empire: Terror on the High Seas, a new play by award-winning actor/playwright Toby Schmitz. The season will run from 28 August.

Toby Schmitz.
Toby Schmitz.

When the play opens, you’ll step aboard the Empress of Australia, a luxury ocean liner on its way to New York City. There’s a cavalcade of characters, from a Chicago bag-man to a South African fighter pilot to a London society ‘it’ girl. Oh, and a serial killer and a man of God. As the ship crosses the Atlantic, passengers start dying in terrible ways, and a ship’s detective is all that stands between civilisation and a floating horror show.

With a mammoth cast of 20 performers, Schmitz is reunited with longtime collaborator, director Leland Kean.

”Leland and I were at a playwright’s conference and one night we gave ourselves the challenge of imagining a post-colonial play that wasn’t set on a station in the outback, with people not communicating, in a shed, about a crime,” said Schmitz.

“Can you talk about Australia without setting the play in Australia? Well, of course you can. What if the characters aren’t Australian? What is an Australian play? Edward Albee’s simple response to this was, ‘You’re Australian, you wrote it.’”

Kean said, “We have a unique perspective of the world in Australia; we should embrace that view and celebrate it, not hide in the comfort of Australiana.

“Taking someone else’s story and dressing it in an Australian accent bores the shit out of me. Engaging those textures of language, universal themes and ideas, and attacking them from our perspective, in a story of our own, now that’s exciting. That’s a true challenge.”

The story is a scary one. Schmitz and Kean say the audience can except thrills, beautiful frocks and dinner suits, and frights.

Get ready to get spooked.

For more information and bookings, visit www.rocksurfers.org or call 1300 241 167.


Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue