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8 Dark Plays to Get You Through the Dark Days

13 May 2019 by Anna Troiano
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Now that winter is approaching, we’re beginning to lose our daylight little by little. However, you shouldn’t let the dark get you down, though, because some of the best shows thrive on it.

From psychological thrillers to thoughtful dramas, Melbourne is offering a brilliant selection of dark theatre. Look on the bright side of the dark winter, and grab your tix to these incredible shows.

When the Light Leaves

This aptly named drama has the perfect combination of sentimentality and anguish to really get your winter mood going. “When the Light Leaves” follows the story of one boy’s painful decision about his dying father’s fate. The poignant production by La Mama Theatre (12-23 June) runs just 70 minutes but still manages to explore the powerful topic of medically assisted death and its impact on society’s future.

Wake in Fright

Based on the Gothic novel by Kenneth Cook, this stage adaptation of “Wake in Fright” packs a brutal punch. The heart-pounding soundscape consumes the audience at the Malthouse Theatre, and will have you digging your fingers into your seat. The good news is when you’re gripped by this shocking and suspenseful Australian horror story running 21 June-14 July, you’ll forget all about the gloom of winter.


No one does dark like the Irish. After sold-out runs in New York and Los Angeles, this celebrated drama by Irish playwright Conor McDermottroe returns to Theatre Works for a limited run (15-18 May). The tender but tragic story follows a lost boy rejected by both family and society as he struggles his way to adulthood, where perhaps he can finally find solid ground.

Return to Escape from Woomera

More of an interactive cultural event than a play, this incredible presentation at Meat Market Melbourne intends to rock you out of your comfort zone with a powerful combination of video games and activism. The singular experience has a short run – 21-25 May – s don’t miss your chance to play a controversial game released sixteen years ago that puts you in the shoes of a refugee escaping detention.


The esteemed independent theatre company La Mama presents this beautifully written topical drama 29 May-9 June. “Them” is a powerful play that examines the pain and necessity of separating from family, foregrounding a dark theme in order to shed light on a global reality.


Opening 9 July and running until 11 August at the Red Stitch Actors Theatre, this exuberantly dark play is timed perfectly to match the deep winter mood. “Pomona” is the quintessential urban horror story for the modern stage. With elements of science fiction and Gothic suspense, this high-stakes thriller will take you down a bleak road that will grip you at every turn.

My Dearworthy Darling

“My Dearworthy Darling” is a visually stunning play about the boundless strength of women through history, and it runs at the renowned Malthouse Theatre 2-18 August. Close out your winter with the illuminating story of two women connected across time by powerful mystic visions and a shared fight to end patriarchal dominance.

Escaped Alone

In this absurdly delightful contribution to the growing genre of post-apocalyptic theatre, seminal playwright Caryl Churchill is doing what she does best. Running in Australia 28 May-June 30 at the Red Stitch Actors Theatre, this brilliant work combines the shocking end to civilization with the mundane ordinariness of four old women catching up in a back garden.