Our Head of Production Hugh Borthwick recently had the chance to visit Sydney where Happy Meal, our co-production with Roots, was part of the line-up at the Sydney Festival.
Written by Tabby Lamb, the joyful queer rom-com had an incredibly successful run at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it won a Fringe First Award.
Hugh writes: “I remember how our work began on Happy Meal. It began on Zoom last April. It then went to the Edinburgh Festival, toured the UK and came to The Drum. So for me to travel out to support it at the Sydney Festival was a big deal.
“On the first day, I visited the sights including the Sydney Opera House and harbour and literally bumped into Bronwen Lacey our Vice Chair of the Board, who was there on holiday!
“Then the work began at a lovely little theatre called the Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst. I did comment that Sydney’s quite a lot like Plymouth just a little bit bigger!
“I also attended the ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony by the indigenous people of Australia which was a brilliant moment. I was also invited to the Government House reception for the Sydney Festival, and I felt very honoured to be there, representing TRP.
“The main challenge of taking a show overseas is making sure that we’ve got all our ducks in a row. It’s all about the planning and communication. A replica build of the set, which was originally built at TR2, was built in Sydney, so I was relieved to see it looked identical when I arrived.
“The production all went smoothly. There are always a few gremlins which need to be sorted and that’s normal but it’s all about the team. We made it work and made sure it was successful. The Sydney Festival staff and venue staff were brilliant to work with.
“The show was received audibly well, lots of cheering and standing up, and the writer Tabby Lamb came out and supported her play. Her social media interactions carried a fair amount of support. People travelled to Sydney to catch a glimpse of her play. The play received excellent reviews.
“I discovered Sydney by running every morning on my own and I explored the city that way, before getting ready to go to work. I also took up the opportunity to go and see some other work as part of the festival. Seeing the production of ‘Room’ was a moment.
“The trip was spectacular. An amazing opportunity. I felt incredibly privileged and honoured to be there to represent Theatre Royal Plymouth.”
Happy Meal now tours to two venues in Perth, Australia, as well as the Perth Festival before it returns to the UK, where it will be performed at Brixton House in London.