×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Last Cab to Darwin

What a great premise for drama: A cabbie learns he's dying of cancer and makes a snap decision to leave the frontier town where he's lived his entire life and drive 3,000 kilometers through the Australian Outback to Darwin, where a doctor has successfully campaigned to decriminalize euthanasia.

With:
With: Barry Otto, Jacki Weaver, Justine Saunders, Andrew McDonnell, Alan Dukes, Kirsty Hillhouse, Sean Taylor, Michael Tuahine.

What a great premise for drama: A cabbie learns he’s dying of cancer and makes a snap decision to leave the frontier town where he’s lived his entire life and drive 3,000 kilometers through the Australian Outback to Darwin, where a doctor has successfully campaigned to decriminalize euthanasia.

The true story of Max Bell, who unwittingly became a media sensation, inspired scribe Reg Cribbs and director Jeremy Sims to head into the Outback and write a fictional version of his adventure. They set out from Bell’s hometown of Broken Hill, an actual mining town with a name that speaks of missed opportunities and shattered dreams.

The play about Max’s trip through Australia’s arid heart turns up some terrific characters and unlikely encounters — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” minus the camp gags.

Australian men, however, especially weather-beaten characters like Max, are difficult to portray onstage. Ray Lawler’s Roo and Barney in the well-known Australian play “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll,” seem to be Cribb’s prototypes; however, in contrast to their rich, inarticulate silences, Max chatters endlessly. It’s annoying and, after three hours, so is Barry Otto, never an actor of great range.

There’s much going on: The media latches onto Max’s plight and chases him; he walks into a town competing to win the weird National Tidy Town championship; his friends, including a morally upright aboriginal woman, variously approve and disapprove of his decision.

“Last Cab to Darwin” contains some wonderful stuff, with nice perfs, especially from Justine Saunders. This group of actors, with a couple of well-received seasons under their belt, is tight and happy. The production next heads out to regional Australia. Tour kicked off in, you betcha, Broken Hill.

Last Cab to Darwin

Glen Street Theater, Sydney; 400 seats; A$48 ($34) top

Production: A Pork Chop Prods., Sydney Opera House and Black Swan Prods. presentation of a play in two acts by Reg Cribb. Directed by Jeremy Sims.

Creative: Sets, Andrew Raymond; lighting, Andrew Lake; music, Paul Charlier. Opened, reviewed Aug. 17, 2004. Running time: 3 HOURS.

Cast: With: Barry Otto, Jacki Weaver, Justine Saunders, Andrew McDonnell, Alan Dukes, Kirsty Hillhouse, Sean Taylor, Michael Tuahine.

More Legit

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Three Sisters review

    London Theater Review: 'Three Sisters'

    Ennui has become exhaustion in playwright Cordelia Lynn’s new version of “Three Sisters.” The word recurs and recurs. Everyone on the Prozorov estate is worn out; too “overworked” to do anything but sit around idle. Are they killing time or is time killing them? Either way, a play often framed as a study of boredom [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Hillary and Clinton review

    Broadway Review: Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in 'Hillary and Clinton'

    If anyone could play Hillary Clinton, it’s Laurie Metcalf – and here she is, in Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” giving a performance that feels painfully honest and true. And if anyone could capture Bill Clinton’s feckless but irresistible charm, that would be John Lithgow – and here he is, too. Who better to work [...]

  • Hadestown review

    Broadway Review: 'Hadestown'

    “Hadestown” triggered a lot of buzz when this wholly American show (which came to the stage by way of a concept album) premiered at Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Arriving on Broadway with its earthly delights more or less intact, this perfectly heavenly musical — with book, music and lyrics by Anaïs [...]

  • Burn This review

    Broadway Review: Adam Driver, Keri Russell in 'Burn This'

    The ache for an absent artist permeates Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This,” now receiving a finely-tuned Broadway revival that features incendiary performances by Adam Driver and Keri Russell, playing two lost souls in a powerful and passionate dance of denial. AIDS is never mentioned in this 1987 play, yet the epidemic and the profound grief that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content