Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

Universal appeal: Tickets swallowed up as 'Boy' set for world premiere


A mere three weeks after tickets went on sale for the highly anticipated world premiere of Boy Swallows Universe, the theatre adaptation of Trent Dalton’s coming-of-age smash hit has had its season extended, accompanied by an announcement of the full cast.

Print article

Tickets for Boy Swallows Universe are being snapped up like they’re going out of fashion.

The fastest-selling Australian debut novel in history is experiencing equal success with its stage adaptation, with an extra week being added to its QPAC run. Boy Swallows Universe will now play at the Playhouse Theatre from 30 August to 25 September.

The play, adapted for stage by Tim McGarry, will see Dalton’s semi-autobiographical and quintessentially Brisbane novel come to life with a full cast of characters, now announced by production partners QPAC, Queensland Theatre, and the Brisbane Festival.

Chapel Hill’s own Joe Klocek, 25, plays Eli Bell. Beginning his career with the Queensland Theatre Youth Artists’ Ensemble and being named the Casting Guild of Australia’s Rising Star in 2019, Klocek has been likened to the next Chris Hemsworth, currently appearing with Eric Bana on feature film The Dry.

Dalton described Klocek as the perfect match for the part, “Eli, heart and soul”.

Ngoc Phan, Vietnamese-Australian actor and playwright, will take on the role of ‘Back Off’ Bich Dang. Phan is a Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts graduate, was La Boite’s artist in residence in 2016 and 2018, and was a Teaching Artist with the Queensland Theatre.

The full cast announcement for Boy Swallows Universe (Image: QPAC)

The role of Slim Halliday, convicted murderer and Eli’s babysitter, will be played by Helpmann Award-winning actor Anthony Phelan who will also take on the role of drug kingpin Tytus Broz. Phelan has worked across theatre, film, and television starring in Top of the Lake and Wanted. 

The prophetic August Bell, Eli’s older brother who is a representation of Dalton’s three older brothers, will be played by Tom Yaxley who recently starred in feature film Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan. 

Eli’s beloved mother Frankie Bell is played by New Zealand television star Michala Banas, while his damaged alcoholic father, Robert Bell, is played by Matthew Cooper.

Anthony Gooley will play Lyle Orlik and Brian Robertson, Hoa Xuande will play Darren Dang, criminal characters Iwan Krol and Alex Bermudez will be  taken on by Joss McWilliam and Ashlee Lollback will play Caitlyn Spies and Shelley.

Andrew Buchanan plays Teddy Kallas and ensemble members are Hsin-Ju Ely and Charles Ball.

Inspired by Trent Dalton’s own childhood and set against the rich backdrop of 1980s Brisbane, Boy Swallows Universe sketches the threads of poverty and criminality but also of hope and love under the directorship of former Queensland Theatre artistic director Sam Strong and designed by Renée Mulder.

One of four world premieres in Queensland Theatre’s 2021 season, Boy Swallows Universe is tipped to be a sell-out production.

“Boy Swallows Universe is the play the whole of Queensland, indeed, the whole of Australia has been waiting for. This is how we truly come back from COVID-19 — with the best story, told by the best artists,” said Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Lee Lewis.

“Hold on to your sunhats, this play is going to be the story that brings us all back together.”

Tickets for Boy Swallows Universe are on sale now. The production opens at QPAC’s Playhouse on 30 August and will run until 25 September. For more information on the production, visit Queensland Theatre’s website.

More Culture stories

Loading next article