Gwen is 90. She woke up this morning to discover that purgatory is sitting alone in a new house in a new subdivision on the edge of town, trying to work out if the remote in her hand operates the TV, the air-con or the fan-forced oven. But the kids are coming round and Father Ezekiel is on his way to bless the house, so the beginning of the end is looking up …

Written specially for Belvoir, Gwen in Purgatory is Tommy Murphy’s brilliant existential comedy about an African missionary in the wilderness of Australian suburbia. Gwen’s brood of ordinary souls is battling along in a changing world and wringing out the last drops of their matriarch’s faith. Between them they may just find their way to some sort of forgiveness.

Tommy Murphy’s Holding the Man was seen at Belvoir St in 2007, and we’ve been hanging out for him to return. He’s one of the country’s most formidable playwrights: canny, dangerous and very funny. Gwen in Purgatory is his illumination of the fear and humour at the heart of Australia’s Irish-Catholic inheritance.


Nathaniel Dean
Grant Dodwell
Sue Ingleton
Melissa Jaffer
Pacharo Mzembe


By Tommy Murphy
Director Neil Armfield
Set Designer Stephen Curtis
Costume Designer Bruce McKinven
Lighting Designer David Walters
Sound Designer Paul Charlier
Dramaturg Eamon Flack
Assistant Director Cristabel Sved
Stage Manager Mark Lowrey
Assistant Stage Manager Sophie Baker



Tommy Murphy’s new play is as deft and pungent a comedy as you are likely to see this year or any other.

Jason Blake | The Sydney Morning Herald

Tommy Murphy’s new play is terrific – a funny and warm family comedy-drama full of recognition for anyone who has a multi-generation family…


John McCallum | The Australian