Sunshine Super Girl Theatre Show Review
By Jake Freeman
On a cool Saturday night, The Summer at Southbank Theatre was transformed into a tennis court arena, complete with onstage courtside seating for the opening night of Sunshine Super Girl. Sunshine Super Girl tells the story of Wiradjuri Australian tennis legend and icon, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, both on and off the court while winning 14 grand slams and 86 singles titles across the 1970s and 1980s.
Sunshine Super Girl is produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company and is directed and written by Andrea James. The Melbourne season of Sunshine Super Girl was to have premiered in 2020 but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. While waiting for the pandemic to end in Victoria, the production toured Sydney and Brisbane before finally playing in Melbourne.
Sunshine Super Girl captures Evonne’s life from a young child growing up in a tiny country town in the 1950s to her final major win at Wimbledon in 1980 before retiring. The story begins with Evonne’s introduction to tennis when given a racquet and encouraged to play by her neighbour. She quickly rose to become the No. 1 tennis player in the world by the age of 19.
Along the way she experienced many trials and tribulations from marriage, dealing with sexual harassment and racism and being at odds with her friends for not being vocal enough as an activist for Aboriginals during the prime of her career.
The play is made up of only five actors, most of whom also play multiple characters with Ella Ferris in the lead role as the tennis star, giving a sterling performance. Jax Compton plays Evonne’s mother Melinda. Lincoln Elliott plays Ken, the father as well as Roger, Evonne’s husband. Katina Olsen plays the sister and a fellow tennis player that calls Evonne the N-Word. Kirk Page portrays the brother Larry and Vic Edwards, the sleazy manager/coach who makes numerous unwanted sexual advances towards Evonne.
All members of the cast were flawless in their performance in bringing the story to life. Having the stage set up as a tennis court for the entirety of the story was an effective technique. Firstly, it was a nice change of scenery from the usual theatre show stage setup, but also it helped bring an extra layer of intimacy and closeness to the production.
Sunshine Super Girl is an emotional, deeply moving but uplifting and feel-good show that also serves as a beautiful tribute to the life and legacy of Evonne Goolagong. It would be great to have more homegrown Australian-focused productions like Sunshine Super Girl as there are many inspiring figures like Evonne that deserve to have their stories told.
Sunshine Super Girl is produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company and is directed and written by Andrea James. Movement and additional choreography direction by Katina Olsen.
Sunshine Super Girl is now playing for a limited season until 14 December 2022 at The Summer, Southbank Theatre, 140 Southbank Boulevard Southbank, a short walk from Flinders Street Station.
The show is only one act and runs for 1 hour and 37 minutes with no intermission. Late arrivals will be seated only after the opening of 8 minutes. The show contains adult themes including sexual harassment and some coarse language and is suitable for mature audiences. This production also contains flashing lights and haze.
To learn more about the Sunshine Super Girl and purchase tickets to the show, go to – https://www.mtc.com.au/plays-and-tickets/whats-on/season-2022/sunshine-super-girl/