Darwin's Reptilia

Natasha Ciesielski
26th Nov 2023

Darwin’s Reptilia is a comedy-drama with a biting script that will keep audiences glued until the end.

The play opens with a self-obsessed couple Renata and Declan (played by Ainslie McGlynn and Danny Ball), in New York having separate conversations, neither listening to the other, until Renata receives news that her estranged mother has died. The self-help author decides to take advantage of the opportunity, travel to “wild exotic” Australia, attend the funeral and meet her half-sister for the first time.

On arrival at a rundown motel in outback Darwin, the couple discover there is no funeral and due to crocodile infestation they are trapped. From boredom chaos ensues and the usually dull motel quickly shifts to a crazy place.

Written by Sydney playwright Charlie Falkner the script is full of laugh-out-loud one-liners, with the characters sharing impulsive “can’t believe have said that” statements. This is especially the case with awkward John (played brilliantly by Mathew Lee) as Renata’s fan-boy stalker who followed her to Darwin. Lee has the audience snickering with his cringe-worthy words.

All the actors give standout performances especially Ball (Declan), whose character shifts from snobbish to drunkard, as he descends into a pit of self-induced desperation in hell.

This play evokes a gamete of emotions and whilst at its heart a comedy, it is intense and there are moments of unnerving darkness. The audience can expect to experience laughter, confusion and collectively gasp in horror.

Darwin’s Reptilia is a quirky and at times a bizarre play but it’s also a fun entertaining show. Three stars.

The play takes place in Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre 25A, an independent theatre for emerging and independent artists.

Darwin’s Reptilia is playing now at Belvoir Theatre till 26 November.