directed by Andrea James – Set and Costumes designed by Romanie Harper
Design by Karen Norris – Choreographed by Vicki Van Hout
by Gail Priest. - Presented by Performing Lines
Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre – 2nd - 5th November,
Griffith NSW, Evonne Goolagong was a household name by 1971 when she won the
women’s tennis singles tournament at Wimbledon leading to her being named Australian
of the Year. She went on to have a
glittering tennis career, winning no fewer than 14 Grand Slam tournament titles
and being inducted into the Australia Hall of Fame in 1985, and the
International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1988.
directed by Andrea James, “Sunshine Super Girl”, celebrates Goolagong’s
achievements and career in a charming doco-style presentation performed by an
ensemble cast in which Ella Ferris
portrays Evonne Goolagong, supported by Katina Olsen, Jacqueline
Compton, Sermsah Bin Saad and Lincoln
Elliott portraying a myriad of other significant others involved in Goolagong’s
|The Company of "Sunshine Super Girl"
on Romanie Harper’s simple, attractive setting representing an actual tennis
court, complete with a tennis-net able to be moved around by the cast, and four
metal benches which neatly double as the family car, Goolagong’s childhood bed in Barellan which she shared
with her brother, and whatever other purposes required of them.
lighting design by Karen Norris transforms the court into clay or grass when
required to differentiate the various international tournaments in which
Goolagong competed, and also divides the stage into smaller areas for the more
Hout’s simple, effective choreography provides an elegant solution for portraying
Goolagong’s endless tennis practice sessions, firstly on the walls of the
family home in Barellan, and later on various tennis courts around the world,
under the watchful eye of coach Vic Edwards, as well as the significant tennis
tournaments in which she participated.
Despite bearing little physical resemblance to Goolagong,
Ella Ferris nevertheless charms with her depiction of her as a calm,
unflappable soul who sails through life largely, unaffected by the challenges thrown
at her by her chosen career.
While the script dutifully works through the significant
events in Goolagong’s life and career, it misses opportunities to explore the
motivations, drama and sacrifices behind those events. It often feels like an
extended monologue, interrupted only as the other members of the cast join Ferris
to act out significant incidents in Goolagong’s life but in such a broad
cartoonish style that there is little opportunity to make much individual
So although the audience is entertained by this charming portrait of Goolagong as a folksy, unflappable Australian sportsperson, it is ultimately left with little insight into the person behind the public persona other than the impression that she would have much rather have been fishing rather than pursuing the career that brought her world fame.
Images by Paz Tassone
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au