Matthew Mitcham stars in the return of Strangers in Between, a captivating Australian classic from Tommy Murphy , the acclaimed playwright of ‘Holding the Man’.
The play’s exceptional storytelling and heartfelt exploration of personal growth earned it the prestigious Best Play Award at the New South Wales Premiere’s Literary Awards.
Joining Matthew Mitcham in the cast are Stephen Connery-Brown and Alex Ansdell. The production runs at Golden Goose Theatre Tuesday 19 September to Saturday 7 October.
You’re starring in the return of Strangers in Between, how would you describe the play?
It’s a hilarious and extremely relatable coming-of-age story about a sheltered, naive queer kid escaping his problematic family home in a tiny rural town and finding himself in the big smoke, woefully ill-equipped to handle life on life’s terms.
What was it about Tommy Murphy’s script that made you so keen to be a part of it?
It’s set in Sydney’s Kings Cross in the 2000’s. In 2006, I was a relatively sheltered 18 year old (somewhat like the main character) making a similar pilgrimage to Sydney, finding myself in Kings Cross, met a boy and ended up spending the next 12 years there. I know the story, I know the city, I know the people. The script is so incredibly rich with references that place the play at such a specific time and place and it has been a wonderful, hilarious trip down memory lane.
This is your UK stage debut, how does it feel to be a part of this production?
I toured cabaret shows around Australia for the five years before moving to the UK with my husband. Having lived in the UK for four years now, I had only recently made the decision to bring performance art back into my life. The very next day I heard about this play, the auditions were the day after that, and I got the call that night! This feels like the perfect project to jump back into it and I feel so privileged to be part of it.
15 years ago this summer you scored the highest ever diving score to win gold at the Beijing Olympics and became the first openly gay Olympic Champion, what prompted you to move into performing?
I was already playing ukulele and singing before I wrote my autobiography in 2012 which was turned into a cabaret show. I toured that show (and a second show) around Australia for several years.
You’re playing two characters, Ben and Will, what do you love most about these characters?
I like Will because he’s a smart, sophisticated, city boy and out of all the characters, he’s probably most like me today. I like Ben because he couldn’t be more unlike me. He’s the kind of person I feel nervous around, and while I could easily present a caricature of the homophobic, angry bogan, I have been enjoying exploring the nuances of the character, his layers, struggles, motivations and limitations.
And what do you think will be the biggest challenge?
Not laughing audibly when I’m offstage. We’ve been in rehearsals for two weeks, and today was the most I’ve laughed so far. Alex (who plays main character Shane) and Stephen (who plays Peter) have me in stitches every time they’re on stage together.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Strangers in Between?
Oh My God, genuinely, please see it, it’s brilliant. It has light and shade, a few tears, lots of laughs, a bit of nudity, and some really beautiful, tender moments. You get a lot of play for your pound.