Bordertown, directed by Samantha Riley, is the latest offering from South Australian Playwrights Theatre. It tells the story of regional hairdresser, Patricia Barnes (Katie O’Reilly), who is famed for creating Bob Hawke’s iconic ‘silver bodgie’ hairstyle in the former Prime Minister’s hey-day.

Perennially in the pursuit of fame, Patricia buys her daughter Flick (Katherine Sortini) a ticket to Hollywood to pursue her career as a make-up artist in the hope that Flick with rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Patricia’s master plan is seamless, as Flick meets and falls in love with Tyrone (Steve Tongun); a washed-up movie star who is struggling to make his big comeback.

Bordertown, based on real events, has moments of comic delight and snippets of great sadness. What starts as a light character-driven piece, moves into a more surrealist exploration in the second half. Complex family dynamics are at the core, as the cautionary tale serves to highlight the pitfalls of fame. Although not present on stage, the larger than life former PM almost feels like a character within the play.

Sortini is a stand-out as the angst-ridden, yet irrepressible Flick. Tongun is a strong presence and captures the overbearing Tyrone with intensity and charm.

The reduced running time for Fringe meant that some scenes were omitted from the original screenplay; perhaps with greater length a further evolution of the characters could have been seen. Bordertown is a uniquely South Australian tale, and as a showcase for South Australian talent, it is a must-see for local theatre lovers.

4.5 stars

Bordertown has a limited run this Fringe season from Feb 26th – 29th at St Aloysius College Theatre. Tickets can be purchased HERE.


Rachel Gould