Trent Dalton's


Adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry
Directed by Sam Strong

The blockbuster Australian novel bursts onto the stage.


  • Ben Hughes, as lighting designer, ensured the scene work was complemented by the projections; the collaboration between these two departments paid off in vibrant and carefully paced design
  • The show relies heavily on complex technical elements, the obvious one being the projections by video designer Craig Wilkinson. Most effective were character appearances in these projections, looming above the action and allowing greater insight into their emotions. Moments that seemed overly cinematic in the first half, came to fruition at the point where all of these enormous personalities with issues and struggles merged together for the emotional final moment."
  • The first rule of storytelling is to show rather than tell, and this is what lies at the heart of the show’s success as it moves the audience quickly through the many early fast-moving scenes of its gritty coming of age story. Swift scene changes go virtually unnoticed within Renee Mulder’s dynamic [set] design.... and Craig Wilkinson’s video design widens us to be, for example, under a starry sky as moving images bleed across the blank canvas of a stage to create suburban balconies and alike to give things a 3D effect
  • Couple [Ben Hughes' lighting design] with the incredible projection mapping from video designer, Craig Wilkinson, and associate motion designer, Jordan Peña, and an entire universe was created in the mostly blank canvas of the Playhouse set. I’ve seen only one other show with projection mapping of this scale, which was Frozen (The Musical) and I would argue that this was just as good quality and just as immersive.
  • Video designer Craig Wilkinson has recreated the city of Brisbane with towering images of its landmarks – Boggo Road Gaol, Story Bridge, the City Hall clock tower – projected onto the three walls of the set. The use of video allows the set to dissolve reality into fantasy and back again at rapid speed. In one moment the set is a Vietnamese restaurant in Darra; in the next, excerpts of handwritten letters are unfolding on the walls: “I will remember this moment … I will remember the end, through the beginning
  • Renée Mulder’s set design, with videography by Craig Wilkinson and lighting by Ben Hughes, transforms the set from Boggo Road to a pier to various scenes of domesticity. A combination of set and video also allows for the projection of the dangerous, adult figures in Eli’s life onto the back and sides of the stage. Their likenesses are split, jagged, almost grotesque, courtesy of a ladder and raised platform that is part of the physical set.
  • Video design by Craig Wilkinson brings the magic and wonder of Eli’s narration to life with transformative projections, transporting the audience from Darra to Bracken Ridge to Brisbane City, through the prison yard and the school yard, and into Eli’s dreams. These projections are used to establish the setting beautifully, but also to build and release tension, to further the storytelling, and to emphasise Eli’s thoughts and emotions
  • Such is the slippery nature of truth and time in Boy Swallows Universe, particularly when theatrical wizardry can transport us to the physical and figurative places a reader must imagine for themselves. Craig Wilkinson’s video design fills every corner of the stage, providing emotional heft
  • Sam Strong and the team have done the same with this play. It’s gold Australia, gold.
  • Set design by Renee Mulder is amazing and lighting by Ben Hughes, sound design by Steven Francis and video work by Craig Wilkinson make it a compelling feast for the senses and one that is quite cinematic at times.
  • “Through the use of a well-structured two-story set and exceptional videography, magic is made.”
  • Video Designer, Craig Wilkinson, has impressively recreated photographic images that fit the walls and floor perfectly, giving a 3D effect, with diverse rainbow and multi-coloured backdrops for the fantasy images such as the moon pool.
  • About


    Playhouse, QPAC

    Presented by Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

    Boy Swallows Universe is adapted from the smash hit novel loosely based on Brisbane author Trent Dalton's own childhood. It’s an exhilarating story of magic and madness, of beauty and brutality, of joy and heartbreak, and of the power of love to triumph over the darkest of circumstances.

    For more information and tickets, head over to Queensland Theatre.

    Production Photography by David Kelly

  • Creative Team

    Creative Team

    Adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry
    Director - Sam Strong
    Designer - Renée Mulder
    Lighting Designer - Ben Hughes
    Composer & Sound Designer - Steve Francis
    Video Designer - Craig Wilkinson
    Movement Director - Nerida Matthaei
    Fight and Intimacy Director - Nigel Poulton

    Senior Stage Manager - John Reid
    Deputy Stage Manager - Yanni Dubler
    Assistant Stage Manager - Margaret Burrows

    Associate Motion Designer - Jordan Peña
    Assistant Fight Director - Sam Valentine
    Associate Sound Designer - Matthew Erskine

    Camera Operator - Joel Tronoff
    Assistant Video Editor - Nevin Howell

    Eli Bell - Joe Klocek
    August Bell/Ensemble - Tom Yaxley
    Lyle Orlik /Brian Robertson/Ensemble - Anthony Gooley
    Frankie Bell - Michala Banas
    Bich Dang/Mrs Birkbeck/Ensemble - Ngoc Phan
    Darren Dang/Ensemble - Hoa Xuande
    Slim Halliday/Tytus Broz/Ensemble - Anthony Phelan
    Iwan Krol/ Alex Bermudez/Ensemble - Joss McWilliam
    Caitlyn Spies/Shelley/Dr Brennan/Ensemble - Ashlee Lollback
    Robert Bell/Ensemble - Mathew Cooper
    Teddy Kallas/Ensemble - Andrew Buchanan
    Ensemble - Charles Ball
    Ensemble - Hsin-Ju Ely