The play, about a newly widowed woman’s attempts to seduce a young poet at her husband’s wake, premiered more than 50 years ago. The new production will be presented as part of the Adelaide Festival, on the centenary of Patrick White’s birth.
A young poet moves into a squalid rooming house run by the basement-bound Mr and Mrs Lusty, a bloated, gluttonous pair. When her husband dies abruptly, Mrs Lusty announces a grand funeral featuring a lavish feast, ‘an ‘am funeral’, in his honour. Driven by her incontinent appetite, she attempts to seduce the young poet at her husband’s wake, with comically tragic consequences.
Written by Australia’s only Nobel Prize winner for Literature, The Ham Funeral has long held iconic status as a misunderstood moment of shocking modernism in Australian theatre history. Igniting controversy when it was rejected for the 1962 Adelaide Festival of Arts as too ‘difficult’ for the general public to understand, its premiere production by the Adelaide University Theatre Guild at the Union Theatre in 1961 was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike.
A strangely beautiful human puppet show—part vaudeville, part lyric poem, and part gothic drama —it now enjoys legendary status as one of the most intriguingly original plays in Australian theatre history, offering audiences an antidote to what Patrick White called ‘the dreary, dun-coloured offspring of journalistic realism’.
2012 will mark the centenary of Patrick White’s birth and the 50th anniversary of the play’s world premiere in Adelaide.
Presented by the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Adelaide Festival.
Director – Adam Cook
Designer – Ailsa Paterson
Composer – Stuart Day
Lighting Designer – Gavan Swift
Cast – Luke Clayson, Jonathan Mill, Amanda Muggleton, Dennis Olsen, Jacqy Phillips and Geoff Revell
TICKETS – State Theatre Company Website