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A (potato) gem of a play, The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race arrives in Adelaide

BY State Theatre Company South Australia | 24-May-2021
Following triumphant seasons across the country, journalist Melanie Tait’s affectionate Australian comedy receives its SA premiere with State Theatre Company South Australia at Royalty Theatre in June.
A (potato) gem of a play
The cast of The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race, State Theatre Company South Australia. Photography by Thomas McCammon
Director Elena Carapetis leads a local cast including Anna Steen, Genevieve Mooy, Carmel Johnson and Sarah Brokensha, plus Susie Youssef (ABC’s Rosehaven/Network Ten’s The Project and the upcoming Making It Australia) in her STCSA debut.

Set and costume designer Kathryn Sproul will transform the Royalty Theatre stage into the small fictional country town of Appleton alongside lighting designer Nic Mollison and sound designer Andrew Howard, who will reunite following their work on STCSA’s recent hit with Country Arts SA, Euphoria.

In The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, Penny (Anna Steen) returns to her childhood home just in time for the Appleton Show and its famous potato race, where the winning man’s prize is $1,000 and the winning woman’s prize is… $200? Not if Penny has anything to do with it. The determined doctor swings into action to right this wrong, but not without some obstacles along the way.

Based on Tait’s real experiences of the potato race in her hometown of Robertson, NSW (where her parents own The Big Potato), The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race is an effervescent, hilarious and big-hearted tale about women taking action and smashing the glass ceiling, one potato sack at a time.

Artistic Director Mitchell Butel says he hopes The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race will leave audiences filled with joy.

“Sometimes you finish reading a play and you immediately know you should program it because your gut tells you how much audiences are going to fall in love with it,” he says. “Playwright Melanie Tait takes the very specific and makes it universal, with one small race becoming a metaphor for much bigger battles. It’s a charming, surprising and hilarious work and I can’t wait for audiences to see what we have in store.”

Director Elena Carapetis says the play has a “massive heart”.

“Working on this play has brought us all so much joy in the rehearsal room,” she says. “I want the audience to walk away feeling like they’ve been to the town of Appleton, like they know and love these characters as friends. I hope they leave with a spring in their step.”

The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, Royalty Theatre, 65 Angas St, June 4-19. Details: statetheatrecompany.com.au