The Appleton Ladies Potato Race

Theatre, Comedy
Two women dance in bright clothing
Photograph: Supplied/Phil Erbacher

Time Out says

A spiralling culture war upsets the potato cart and makes you want to stand up for your principles.

When ABC broadcaster, author and playwright Melanie Tait return to her hometown of Robertson, NSW, she wasn’t prepared for the hoo-ha that would stir up when she questioned the gender inequity in the town’s annual potato race. All set to compete, she realised the maximum prize was $200, compared to $1,000 for the men’s race. Setting up a GoFundMe to quietly erase the difference kicked a hornet’s nest.

She has captured the fall-out in The Appleton Ladies Potato Race, running at Riverside Theatres from May 5-8 before shifting to Glen Street Theatre May 13-16. It’s timely insight into inequity and the pay gap at a time when the national conversation is pushing for true equality and respect. The comedy explores our relationship with history and change, packing a punch by showing rural Australia through the eyes of five female leads fighting rejection while daring to ask whether the world can be better.

Time Out reviewer Cassie Tongue said of the original run: “Melanie Tait has written a shrewd, big-hearted love letter to the women of country New South Wales. Her script is gently critical and deeply loving. It’s a play about gender equality that your mother won’t think is 'a bit much,' and that’s to its credit: this is a community story, designed to be easily shared.”

White Pearl director Priscilla Jackman leads a cast including Valerie Bader (Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam), Merridy Eastman (A History of Falling Things), Sapidah Kian (Five Provocations), Amber McMahon (Dance Nation) and Sharon Millerchip (Fan Girls). They play out a conflict that pits those pushing for change against those who are not fans of the tree-changers and their big-city ways. Who will win this great Australian race?

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