I’m afraid I’ll sound like I’m ready to let go of you. And I’m not.

Eloquent, playful, big-thinking, tender and fierce – Michael Gow’s new play is an astonishing act of theatrical invention.

Will Drummond is bewildered. All the old certainties are coming apart. When he finds himself sitting by his mother’s bedside in a hospital room on the north coast of New South Wales, suddenly he’s faced with the mortality of loved ones, faced with the state of the world as it was and as it is right now. Set adrift, Will considers loss and what’s left, class and contradiction, and navigating a corporatised and globalised world alone.

Once in Royal David’s City is big and small at once, tumbling from the fifties to the present, from East Berlin to Byron Bay, from brief encounters to the cycles of history. It’s about death and Christmas and class warfare and what to teach school children about politics and art. It’s about the old working class and the new middle class and what one has to learn from each other.

It is beautiful.

Buy the script program of Once in Royal David’s City


Helen Buday
Brendan Cowell
Maggie Dence
Lech Mackiewicz
Tara Morice
Helen Morse
Anthony Phelan
James Wright


By Michael Gow
Director Eamon Flack
Set & Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Costume Designer Mel Page
Composer Alan John
Sound Supervisor Michael Toisuta
Stage Manager Luke McGettigan
Assistant Stage Manager Keiren Smith
Assistant to the Set Designer Georgia Hopkins
Stage Management Secondment Michelle Sverdloff-Bruer
Costume Secondment Hannah Koch


Cowell excels in a knotty and demanding role and the supporting players create a pin-sharp gallery of characters…

Jason Blake | The Sydney Morning Herald

…extremely and acidly funny, touchingly compassionate and the performances of all are thrilling.

Diana Simmonds | Stage Noise

The intersection of the intellect and the emotions, at both a structural and thematic level, is what makes Michael Gow’s play so interesting, so affecting and so immensely enjoyable.

Rebecca Whitton | Australian Stage

A great Belvoir talent, director Eamon Flack has done an excellent job on this crisp production. One of Flack’s strengths is in directing performance and it shows here; all of the actors are flawless, while Cowell is just breathtaking.

Suzanne Rath | Arts Hub