Louis Nowra’s Radiance is an exuberant black sabbath for three great Indigenous dames. It begins conventionally enough: Mae, Nona and Cressy gather at the old Queenslander in the tropics for Mum’s funeral. But these three sisters are forces of nature, and they haven’t been in the same room for years, and years. It isn’t long before that old house can’t contain the joy and pain of them all being together again…

Radiance began its life at Belvoir in 1993. After 22 years, Nowra’s feat of playwriting – almost Shakespearean, a Tempest-like packet of lust, rage, grief and high-flying foolery – is ready to be unleashed again. Leah Purcell (Brothers Wreck) is the woman for the job.

Purcell is a powerhouse. She burst onto the national stage nearly two decades ago and is as full of fight and life as she ever was. What better idea than for this all-round theatre elder to direct herself in this mighty little classic? Here she is joined by a new generation: The Sapphires’ Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell.

Indigenous Theatre at Belvoir supported by The Balnaves Foundation.


Leah Purcell
Shari Sebbens
Miranda Tapsell


By Louis Nowra
Director Leah Purcell
Set & Costume Designer Dale Ferguson
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Composer & Sound Designer Brendan O’Brien
Associate Sound Designer Steve Toulmin
Fight Director Scott Witt
Cressy Stand-in Sharni McDermott
Lighting Design Secondment Kelsey Lee
Stage Manager Luke McGettigan
Assistant Stage Manager Keiren Smith



All three [performers] are riveting to watch and not afraid nor reluctant to make laughter.

Diana Simmonds | Stage Noise

And with these three dames at the centre of it all, it’s impossible not to be carried away in the play’s final moments.

Ben Neutze | Daily Review

The very funny first half is driven by Tapsell, delightfully fresh and wickedly mischievous, frankly sexual but full of romantic dreams that become increasingly poignant as the truths emerge.

John McCallum | The Australian

To have Purcell, Sebbens and Tapsell in one play is an embarrassment of riches, and it’s so easy and wonderful to watch them together

Cassie Tongue | Aussie Theatre

It’s barely January and already we might have some of the year’s best theatre in Radiance.

Polly Simons | The Daily Telegraph