When the Blackheath Theatre Company's production of The Peach Season opens on May 26, it will bring an evolutionary twist on an acclaimed play, written by award winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist, Debra Oswald, the creator, and head writer the of successful TV series Offspring.
With the author's blessing, one of the character's undergoes a gender switch.
Oswald's verdict: "One of the nerve-wracking but thrilling aspects of live theatre is its vulnerability - real humans on stage with all the risks that entails - and I love that the Blackheath Theatre Company is taking a bold approach to the casting situation."
I love that the Blackheath Theatre Company is taking a bold approach to the casting situation.Debra Oswald
She added: "I think the essence of the way the 'Joe' character sits in the story will still work - it will be intriguing to discover how the gender switch to 'Josephine' might throw up new inflections and insights."
The setting of the peach orchard to which mother, Celia, and daughter, Zoe, have escaped to reconstruct a new life, putting a tragedy behind them, has been an ideal protective rural retreat.
The moving story touches on the love and fear a mother has for her child who is about to be overwhelmed by the realities of the outside world.
The arrival of blow-in fruit pickers to help with the peach crop brings an explosive mixture of suspense, emotion and danger.
Oswald explained the inspiration behind The Peach Season.
"The story springs from my wrestling with a dilemma: How do we protect people we love enough, but not too much? How do we bear watching them go out into the perilous world with no guarantee of safety or happiness? What bargains do people make with darkness to survive?
"Stirred into the story mix are my anxieties as a parent [and] my love of the myth of Demeter and Persephone."
Director Paulina Kelly, who will also take on the role of Josephine, has been an active participant with the theatre company since 2018.
"We are delighted with Debra's wholehearted support for our goal to challenge and excite our audience," she said.
Tickets $30 ($25 concession) online: https://events.humanitix.com/the-peach-season or in person at Century 21, Blackheath (36 Govetts Leap Rd).