Tragicomedy about the contradictions of human existence

Lady Eats Apple

Back to Back Theatre

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A bored God creates the world, hoping for a little worship. Adam and Eve appear in a dark paradise. An uneasy romance takes place between the empty seats of the theatre. Lady Eats Apple is a journey through an impressive dream landscape. The Austra­lian Back to Back Theatre's ensemble mixes the comedy of existence with the tragedy of our inevitable death. After the success of Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, performed in the Netherlands in 2012, the group is back with their biggest production yet. They explore the contradictions of human existence in their own inflatable theatre.


Background information

With Lady Eats Apple, the Australian group Back to Back Theatre will be making its debut at the Holland Festival. The performance is one of the most ambitious and spectacular productions that the group has made in the course of its thirty-year history. The spark that led to the creation of Lady Eats Apple came from Simon Laherty, one of the actors from the Back to Back Theatre ensemble. 

He wanted to make a tragedy. This struck a chord with Bruce Gladwin, the group's artistic director, who created a work that had death as its starting point. The group carried out a series of interviews with people who had had near-death experiences. These people's recollections form the basis of the performance, which takes place in an impressive inflatable setting that will take up a large part of the theatre. Gladwin describes it as a 'large, visual theatre piece that tries to create the unconscious as a landscape; a series of voids that the audience is not only watching, but within.'

The story, which starts with Adam and Eve and the beginning of time extends to the present day. According to Gladwin, it is crucial that it mainly takes place in the heads of the members of the audience. In the Australian magazine Broadsheet, he explains that, 'It’s quite an open work,' which looks at 'what limitations are placed on us as individuals, and by who.'

Back to Back Theatre has been making theatre since 1987, under the leadership of various artistic directors, but its cast has always been made up of actors with mental disabilities. The performances  develop from a process of workshops and intensive improvisation sessions. The group has built an international reputation and tours all over the world. One of the company's most recent successes is Ganesh Versus the Third Reich (2012 in the Rotterdamse Schouwburg), which newspaper De Volkskrant described as'a genuine and fascinating blend of reality and fantasy that seems to come about as you're watching it, often forcing you to hold your breath.' That performance dealt with the earth and the abuse of power. This is a recurring theme in the work of Back to Back Theatre, and is also a focus of Lady Eats Apple.

Gladwin emphasis that Back to Back Theatre is more than a theatre group for disabled people. The work that they produce relates to topics that are bigger and wider than that alone. Gladwin explains, 'For me our objective is really to just make great art.' Lady Eats Apple had its world premiere at the Melbourne Festival in 2016.



Back to Back Theatre creates new forms of contemporary performance developed by an ensemble of actors with a disability, giving voice to social and political issues that speak to all people. Based in the regional centre of Geelong, the company is one of Australia's most globally recognised and respected contemporary theatre companies. 

Since 1999, under the Artistic Directorship of Bruce Gladwin, the company has nurtured a distinctive artistic voice. Back to Back Theatre has received 17 national and international awards including in recent years Performance Studies International's Artist-Scholar-Activist Award, a Helpmann Award for Best Australian Work, an Edinburgh International Festival Herald Angel Critics' Award, a New York Bessie and the Myer Foundation Group Award for longstanding contribution to the development of Australian theatre. In 2015, Bruce Gladwin received the Australia Council for the Arts' Inaugural Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre.



Bruce Gladwin
devisors, performers
Mark Deans, Simon Laherty, Romany Latham, Brian Lipson, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price
set design
Mark Cuthbertson
projection design
Rhian Hinkley
light design, technical director
Andrew Livingston, bluebottle
Chris Abrahams
sound design
Marco Cher-Gibard
sound system design
Nick Carroll
sound design, mix
Lachlan Carrick
Melissa Reeves, Tamara Searle, Kate Sulan
Eugyeene Teh
stage manager
Alice Fleming
assistant stage manager
Lucy Harrison
production manager
Dans Maree Sheehan
mechanical design and fabrication
Kinetic Sets
senior producer
Ally Harvey
executive producer
Alice Nash
Back to Back Theatre
assisted by
Australian Government‘s Major Festivals Initiative in association with Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., Melbourne Festival, Adelaide Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Carriageworks, Wiener Festwochen, Theater der Welt with support from Keir Foundation, Thyne Reid Foundation
with support by
Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation (Eldon and Anne Foote Trust Donor Advised Program 2016)
co-commissioned by
Holland Festival
with support in its development by
Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne, Coleby Consulting. (First developed in residence at the V&A as part of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT)).