Emily Goddard’s This is Eden

Fortyfivedownstairs plays host to exceptional talent in this no-holds-barred performance of female convict behaviour.

By Lucy Dobson

If one’s under the false pretence that Goddard’s This is Eden will be some blatant display of tomfoolery and roly-polies, then let’s address that from the bat. O’ there’ll be laughs shared and shared frequently, however they’ll be accompanied by a brutal insight into the harsh realities and coping methods of the women convicts of Cascades Female Factory in Van Diemen’s Land, some 170 years ago. But we’re not really worried about the details, or are we?

If parts that seethe in sarcastic undertones hit a little close to home, then perhaps it’s time to question why? As the play laments the blameless crimes of a supposedly historic age, there’s a stirring in the gut that does the math, and it’s fresh. Furthermore, there’s blame to be placed and whilst we can only plead our ignorance for so long, there’s a mountain of eyes widening, and I suspect Goddard to be amongst them.


In a time when the world is screaming for an upheaval of all that we declare is no longer satisfactory, This is Eden is a welcome offering. I left fortyfivedownstairs ready to march! But also in my stride laid the knowing feeling that to feed a starving child, many would risk thievery. Goodness, how many people have nabbed a wedge of cheese in their life and I doubt starvation but rather inflation to be the cause. It begs the question does it not?

Directed by Susie Dee, Goddard’s performance exhumed the talents of an actor well trained: from rosy cheeked tour guide to bread and tea spitting loon and her ability to alternate between characters was nothing short of remarkable. The bare bones of Romaine Harper’s simple but expertly created set, along with lighting and sound by Gina Gascoigne and Ian Moorhead respectively, enhanced the mood perfectly, making good use of all that was on offer, audience included!

At parts I felt lost in structure but I assumed this was yet another clever trick played by Goddard and Dee to echo the confusion and tragic mess of it all. If you’d rather stay at home in the comforts of ignorance, then don’t bother, the revolution doesn’t need you! However, if you appreciate top-notch acting and all the feels (laughs included), then head on down to fortyfivedownstairs, you won’t be disappointed.

This is Eden is at fortyfivedownstairs until 25 February.  Tickets can be purchased online and at the box office: 03 9662 9966.