Above – Brandon McClelland & Arkia Ashraf. Cover – Emily Goddard. Photos – Brett Boardman

The secret is to keep tension in your bobbin says Margaret Noffs in regard to successful sewing in Alana Valentine’s Wayside Bride and Valentine dazzlingly shows she knows the secret in keeping tension in the bobbin when it comes to sewing a seamless story.

Infectiously entertaining and rivetingly alive, Wayside Bride is a boldly embroidered quilt covering a period in the 1970s when Ted Noffs' Wayside Chapel established itself as a sanctuary for the homeless, the drug addicted, and anyone who fell between the cracks of orthodoxy. Noffs was a Methodist minister who would marry anyone when others would not. He would sanction mixed marriages between Catholic and Protestants, Hindus and Jews, Buddhists and Christians.

The inspiration for the project was personal for the playwright. Her own mother, Janice Powell was among those married at the Chapel and the play draws from living testimony, mining a rich seam of memory and pride and pain that is connected specifically to city of Sydney but says something unique about the flavour of religious radicalism when it is expressed in an Australian context. For many, Noffs was a saint, for others, a sinner, particularly the patriarchy of his own church who prosecuted him for heresy.

Co- directed by Eamon Flack and Hannah GoodwinWayside Bride is socially significant realism wedded to magnificent theatricality.

An en pointe ensemble bring this tapestry of tales to vibrant, joyous, hopeful life. Arkia Ashraf, Maggie Blinco, Rashidi Edward, Marco Chiappi, Emily Goddard, Sandy Greenwood, Sacha Horler, Rebecca Massey, Brandon McClelland, and Angeline Penrith thread various characters through the eye of the narrative needle with detailed acumen and alacrity.

Costume Designer Ella Butler renders the fashion of the era as the fashion error it was and  Set Designer Michael Hankin’s unfussy, open plan space allows for flexible and fluid scene changes, superbly augmented by Lighting Designer Damien Cooper.

Ending with a wedding, Wayside Bride is a glorious celebration of defying religious convention and embracing a healthy scepticism about institutions and authority.

Event details

Belvoir presents
Wayside Bride
by Alana Valentine

Co-directors Eamon Flack and Hannah Goodwin

Venue: Upstairs Theatre | Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills NSW
Dates: 2 Apr – 29 May 2022
Bookings: belvoir.com.au


Most read Sydney reviews

More from this author