Following the recent success of new Australian play, City of Gold, Queensland Theatre presents another highly anticipated world premiere, L’Appartement, written by leading Australian playwright, screenwriter and novelist, Joanna Murray-Smith. Murray-Smith adds another string to her already impressive bow, making her directorial debut on L’Appartement.
With previews commencing Saturday August 3 and the season running until Saturday August 31 in the Cremorne Theatre, L’Appartement is inspired by Murray-Smith’s three-month holiday in Paris with her daughter.
Says Murray-Smith, “We ended up staying in a swanky minimal Airbnb near the Bastille while our hosts travelled. The experience made me think about the style of the space we all choose to live in and the contrast of chaos and order both literally and psychologically. After the trip, my imagination filtered life through fiction, as it always does. I started to ‘see’ an ordinary couple who come to Paris to renew their relationship and find themselves confronted by ‘perfection’ — both the apartment itself, and the host couple. At first the French couple make them feel inadequate, but over the course of the ten days in Paris, they find themselves re-evaluating their life together and the true nature of ‘perfection’. I thought it lent itself to one of my favourite forms — the comedy with tragic undertones.”
L’Appartement features one of the most acclaimed, and captivating, casts to tread the boards of Queensland Theatre. Multi award-winning Queensland actor, Andrew Buchanan (QT’s Macbeth, Water Falling Down, TV Harrow, The Family Law, Sea Patrol) joins fellow Matilda Award-winner Liz Buchanan (Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirl, Twelfth Night, The 39 Steps) and Melanie Zanetti (QT’s Pygmalion, Little Dog Laughed, Jasper Jones and TV Bluey) as well as Green Room award-winner (Prize Fighter) Pachero Mzembe (The Mountaintop TV Underbelly:Razor, Here Come the Habibs) in a theatre event sure to make audiences rethink the way they live and the nature of their relationships.
Joanna Murray-Smith knew from the moment the foursome read the first draft together that she had her cast.
“They were perfect. Andrew had proven himself a brilliant comic actor in another play of mine at Queensland Theatre, The Female of the Species. He has a wonderful sense of timing, detail and laconic Aussie-ness. Pachero had been exceptionally poignant and authentic in Rockabye, a play of mine at the Melbourne Theatre Company many years ago. I didn’t know Liz or Mel until that first reading but it was obvious that they were probably the best actresses on the planet to play the roles of the two wives. It helped that Liz is married to Andrew — so we had a huge head-start in terms of the effortless intimacy of the Australian couple. Mel’s petite elegance, her savoir faire and easy sophistication makes her so bourgeois French! I can’t actually believe that she isn’t!”
Helpmann, Green Room and Matilda Award-winning and Tony-nominated Designer, Dale Ferguson leads an impressive team of creatives including Lighting Designer Ben Hughes and Composer/Sound Designer, Guy Webster.
Directing L’Appartement is a new experience for Joanna Murray-Smith who admits she tweaked the script after being hired in the role.
“Once I knew I was directing, and got over the nervous breakdown, I started redrafting the play in an entirely different way to the way I usually write new drafts. In the past, the scenic problems of telling the story were never my problem. I could write what I wanted to and give it to the director with the responsibility on them to make it work. Suddenly all the problems were my problems to solve. It was terrifying but also quite wonderful because I was feeling the play as a complete universe instead of a conversation. I owe a debt to Artistic Director Sam Strong for asking me to do something I never intended to do because, if nothing else, he has made me a better writer.”
L’Appartement: The Story
Rooster (Andrew Buchanan) and Meg (Liz Buchanan) have finally taken the honeymoon they postponed, now that their twins are toddlers. It’s hard for them not to feel a touch inadequate though, in the company of their extremely stylish and professionally high-flying Airbnb hosts – Serge (Pacharo Mzembe) and Lea (Melanie Zanetti) – whose Paris apartment is more a replica of a minimalist contemporary art gallery, than a home. When an ominously large artefact is delivered to the apartment, Meg and Rooster must grapple with their position on the sliding scale of privilege, entitlement and cultural currency.
Saturday 3 August – Saturday 31 August 2019
Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane