A new comedy-drama that is being touted as the next modern Australian classic is coming to Cessnock Performing Arts Centre next month.
Described as Kath and Kim meets The Castle, Spencer explores the fate of one gloriously dysfunctional Australian family across a weekend of love, laughs and pain.
Spencer tells the story of a tight-knit family led by single-mum matriarch Marilyn (Jane Clifton, Prisoner, Neighbours) and her three adult children - wayward daughter Jules (Fiona Harris, The Librarians, Offspring), mouthy coulda-been Ben (Lyall Brooks, Winners & Losers, Neighbours) and AFL player and golden-boy Scott (Jamieson Caldwell, The Doctor Blake Mysteries).
About to meet the young son (Spencer) he never knew he had, Scott and the family have returned home to help mark the occasion.
With the surprise appearance of the father they barely remember (Roger Oakley, Home and Away, Blue Heelers), the entire family is forced to work together to clean up both the house and their own fractured relationships as the clock ticks down to Spencer's arrival.
Employing classic Australian vernacular and the penchant for humour to explore issues of self-acceptance, identity and depression, Spencer asks the audience to consider how much our family defines who we are, and whether we ever really grow up.
Underneath a hilarious family comedy there lies an undercurrent of darker themes. The stories of Ben and Scott see an exploration of toxic masculinity; while with Jules there are abandonment issues at play. With parents, Marilyn and Ian, there's a glimpse at how parents can feed into these emotional ecosystems and how being present can sometimes be as hurtful as walking away.
Spencer is presented by Australia's leading independent theatre companies, Lab Kelpie.
Following rave reviews and audience feedback off its world premiere season in 2017, the play was nominated for two Green Room Awards in 2018 for writing (playwright Katy Warner) and performance (actor Lyall Brooks, previously seen in Lab Kelpie's production of A Prudent Man).
It is coming to Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, September 7 as part of a national tour.
The Age theatre reviewer Cameron Woodhead gave the production a four-and-a-half star review, saying, "If you're lucky enough to have it come to your neck of the woods, you should beat down the door to see it."
Tickets are on sale at the CPAC box office, by phone on 4993 4266 or online at cessnockperformingartscentre.com.au.