William Thornhill arrives in New South Wales a convict from the slums of London. Upon earning his pardon he discovers that this new world offers something he didn’t dare dream of: a place to call his own.
But as he plants a crop and lays claim to the soil on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, he finds that this land is not his to take. Its ancient custodians are the Dharug people.
A deeply moving and unflinching journey into Australia’s dark history, Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s acclaimed novel The Secret River was first performed by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2013.
The play had its UK premiere in August 2019, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, before transferring to the National Theatre, London.
‘The Secret River is a sad book, beautifully written and, at times, almost unbearable with the weight of loss, competing distresses and the impossibility of making amends’ Observer on the novel The Secret River
‘A compelling historical epic… unforgettable and unmissable’
‘Combines masterly storytelling with metaphorical resonance… a mesmerising story… memorably and movingly pinpoints a crucial moment in Australian history’
‘Flows and thunders, and inescapably sweeps you away… a hugely powerful adaptation’
— The Stage
‘A ravishing and sobering epic… a huge and impressive piece of theatre, that tells us a story about our own past that we ought to listen to’
— Time Out
‘A mammoth production that takes a small family story and projects it onto a narrative of nations’
‘A sweeping saga with deep currents… an epic story from Australia’s brutal past’
— The Times
‘A powerful confrontation with Australia’s colonial past… essential’
— Financial Times