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Anthem is a portrait of a country unable to reconcile its past, uncertain of its future and political vision. The play takes the image of a train as its central metaphor, the meeting place for all the identities of the city with people coming together on their commute united by their common need to make ends meet. The colliding voices that make up this anthem might not always be in harmony, but they cannot be silenced.

Venues: Playhouse,Arts Centre,Melbourne Festival

              Ros Packer Drama Theatre,Sydney Festival

              Heath Ledger Theatre,Perth Festival


Writers: Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas & Irine Vela


Director: Susie Dee

Designer: Marg Horwell

Composer: Irine Vela

Lighting Designer: Paul Jackson

Movement Consultant: Natalie Cursio 

Assistant Director: Sapidah Kian 

Aboriginal Cultural Dramaturg: Bryan Andy

Original Producer: Daniel Clarke (Arts Centre Melbourne)

Producer: Performing Lines

Photography: Pia Johnston

Featuring: Amanda Ma, Maude Davey, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Eva Seymour, Carly Sheppard, Maria Mercedes, Reef Ireland, Thuso Lekwape, Osamah Sami, Eryn Jean Norvill, Sahil Saluja and Ruthy Kaisila, Dan Whitton and Jenny M Thomas.


Review Highlights:


The Conversation

This is not a small play in any sense of the word: not its political objectives, its feelings, themes, aesthetics, content or cast. It has a lot of heart, energy, and fire. 


Time Out, Melbourne


performed by a superb cast of 14….There’s not a weak link in the entire cast……


It’s gorgeous writing and handled expertly by Dee, whose use of the public space – smartly designed by Marg Horwell with simple train seats and moving platforms to define separate places – is extraordinary throughout  


the parts of Anthem that hit the mark are so overwhelmingly effective they’ll be difficult to forget


It’s got some choice lines that will undoubtedly shake an audience out of their political comfort zone


The Age


It’s a significant event in the cultural life of the city………Anthem is powerful and important theatre that should inspire reflection on how Australia became so polarised – so exhausted and resentful, self-serving and paranoid – and what values might we embrace to re-establish a common song


Broadway Baby

Sublimely directed……compelling, authentic, and necessary


The Guardian


an ambitious, energetic and remarkable play…. 

The 14 cast members are excellent…..


This is tough, funny theatre with an urgency to its purpose and no comfortable answers. It can’t say everything about modern Australia, but what it does say rings true.


Australian Stage

Anthem tells the story of a divided nation, without identity, a nation full of rage and uncertainty, of outdated class systems and ingrained racism. There is no great happy ending in Anthem, but it’s something much more important, because it’s the truth. What is it to be Australian? Anthem may not have the answer, but at least it makes you ask the question.


Daily Review


If you’re looking for a reassuring moment of Australian unity, you won’t find it here. But if you’re looking for an honest, raw account of a nation still grappling with its history and uncertain of its future, Anthem is the play for you.


Stage Noise


Dee’s direction of the large cast, some playing more than one role, is masterly. Once again, she demonstrates why she is one of Australia’s finest…..


Anthem is a successful and important way to start the 2019 Melbourne Festival.


Keith Gow blog


This is a bold, layered, cerebral work that made me think and made me feel things viscerally….


Limelight Magazine


It boldly tackles Australian society’s fragmentation


The Blurb


Directed by Susie Dee, Anthem makes for an, at times, uncomfortable but nonetheless unforgettable theatrical experience


The Australian Book Review



Anthem is bleak and often confronting, but it manages to avoid being didactic. We the audience may not be let off the hook, but the play crackles with humour and there’s a lyricism and springiness to the writing that reminds you what a fine team this is and how rarely we get to share in a project of this kind.





the ensemble cast give incredible performances, bringing great clarity and diversity to each character, making the transitions between the several concurrent storylines easy to follow. The direction is impeccable. Susie Dee is at the absolute height of her powers. The staging is flawless and the set and lighting look great


Theatre Press

A stunning, contemporary triumph




One of the real pleasures of this production is its choreography and stage craft, which is always various, at once alive and livening……..It’s brilliant to see what Dee can do when she has, for once, the resources of a main stage to articulate her directorial vision. It makes stunning theatre: at once bold, arresting and clear. Another pleasure is the consistently fine and various cast; for once the stage did look like the streets of Melbourne, with people of all ages and races.

Anthem is, for the most part, gripping and accomplished theatre saying difficult things about where we are now, and that’s much rarer than it should be.



Stage Whispers


Anthem is a finely tuned and beautifully calibrated theatre work 



Sometimes Melbourne

With a consistently remarkable cast of 14 – bloody Nora, they are good –, Vela's score played live and building the emotional complexity, and Dee's direction that never lets go of the big picture, it's easy to see it as one work, even if the writing voices are different.


The Australian 

Dark and harrowing as the material is, Susie Dee’s large-scale production is energising, clear-eyed, superbly acted and magnificently staged.

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