Four male friends board a cruise ship for what they expect to be the trip of a lifetime. But in their pursuit of a good time, the four men spiral out of control, and the scene is set for an appalling crime.

Next Friday 1 April, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will open the doors of its Eternity Playhouse for the Sydney premiere of Savages, the latest work from multi award-winning Australian playwright, Patricia Cornelius.

Directed by Tim Roseman, the artistic director of Playwrighting Australia, Savages cast will feature Josef Ber Thomas Campbell, Yure Covich and Troy Harrison.

During a break from a recent rehearsal, Theatre People caught up with 2015 Sydney Theatre Award-winning actor, Thomas Campbell, to find out how preparations are progressing.

“It’s pretty intense,” he says. “We’re all on stage for the whole time, and it’s not particularly light material.”

But he adds, “It’s going well. We’re in a good place.”

Campbell is no stranger to Darlinghurst Theatre Company. He’s previously performed in a number of their works staged at their former home in Potts Point. But Savages does represent his first time working with the company since it arrived at its new home at Burton Street’s Eternity Playhouse.

“It’s amazing where they’ve come from,” he says.

“They’re now a professional theatre company, which is really exciting. Sydney’s a very small place… for theatre as an actor, so it’s great to have another professional theatre company that you can be working [with].”


Thomas Campbell will appear in Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Savages (Photo credit: Helen White)

Savages is a confronting piece exploring masculinity and misogyny. It first opened at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne in August, 2013. That production received rave reviews, with The Australian calling it Cornelius’ ‘finest play to date’ and ‘a powerful piece of theatre at every level’.

“It’s basically an exploration of men in modern day society in Australia… but then it also explores the dark side of where this ideology of Australian mateship can go,” Campbell says.

But while its darker aspects are obviously prominent, Campbell tells Theatre People it’s also highly entertaining.

“It’s got really funny moments,” he says.

“I’m the black sheep of the group – the ‘outsider mate’. He’s the butt of a lot of the jokes… I suppose I’m a bit of comic relief a lot of times throughout the play.

“It’s got a bit of everything. As a piece of theatre, I think it will be quite exciting to witness.”

Many reading the show’s synopsis will be immediately reminded of the story of Dianne Brimble, who died on a P&O cruise ship in 2002. But the work remains topical 14 years on, in light of scandals that have more recently rocked professional sport in Australia. Savages is a focus on a group of men in a state of lawlessness.

“These men are everywhere”, Campbell says. “Is it situations that get them to behave the way they do, or are they innately evil? I don’t think anyone’s innately evil… How do these men get to the point where they behave so abhorrently?

“Is it them or Australian society and the sports madness that promotes this behaviour?”

There’s little doubt Sydney audiences will walk away from upcoming performances of Savages reflecting on those  crucial questions.


Previews: 1 – 3 April
Season: 6 April – 1 May
Performance Times :Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm, Wed matinee: 27 April, 11am, Sat Matinees: 23 and 30 April, 3pm
Ticket Prices: Adult $45/ Conc & Groups $38/ Under 30 (Tue-Thu) & Previews $30
A $2 booking fee applies per ticket for online and phone bookings
Bookings or 02 8356 9987 (9.30am-5.30pm weekdays)