Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Once We Lived Here

by -

From what seems an unlikely premise for a musical, collaborators Mathew Frank and Dean Bryant have crafted a complex and engrossing piece of theatre, peppered with themes of family identity and selective memory. Set on a sheep station in the Australian outback, a family gathers to decide the fate of its childhood home in the wake of the mother’s terminal illness. Dean Bryant’s book struggles to find its emotional core at first but gradually pulls us into the story, while throwing enough narrative curve balls to keep the audience on their toes.

This is matched by an equally thoughtful score by Mathew Frank, which carries echoes of Sondheim, and a strong Act II opener that recalibrates the mood and allows the rest of the story to unfold satisfactorily.

A committed cast bring the Macpherson family to life, led by Simone Craddock as ailing matriarch Claire. Belinda Wollaston provides much of the comedy as the pert, preening Lecy, the prodigal daughter of sorts but central to the heart of this story is the complicated relationship between Melle Stewart’s practical homesteader Amy and migrant labourer Burke, played with self-effacing charm by Shaun Rennie.

Paul Vale

  • King’s Head, London
  • April 4-26
  • Author: Mathew Frank music, Dean Bryant book, lyrics
  • Director: Dean Bryant
  • Musical director: Alex Beetschen
  • Producer: Dominic Haddock, Liz Aspinall, Lianne Bloemen, Theatre Up Close
  • Cast: Melle Stewart, Belinda Wollaston, Simone Craddock, Iestyn Arwel, Shaun Rennie
  • Running time: 2hrs 35mins

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price