Thursday, July 11, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race Review by Vicky Bobeldyk

In the quintessential Aussie country town of Appleton, change happens slowly if at all.
Agricultural Show Society President ‘Bev Armstrong’ (Jeany Elliot), and Secretary ‘Barb Ling’ (Katrina Hansen) are planning the highlight of the year, The Annual Potato Race. Bringing in the requisite shandy is Bev’s daughter-in-law: overworked barmaid, hairdresser, kids footy coach, mother of four boys and reigning champion of the women’s race ‘Nikki Armstrong’.
At Nikki’s salon, her prodigal sister, ‘Dr Penny Anderson’ (Caroline Roche) upsets the potato cart. She discovers women living in the country still don’t see themselves as equal. The winner of the men’s race gets $1000, while the winner of the women’s race still only receives a measly $200. Determined to spark change in Appleton, Penny’s campaign threatens to tear apart the town, the family, the show society and with it, 30 years of friendship.
She finds support from new resident, artist and former Syrian refugee ‘Rania Hamid’ (Pia Larsen), and her Aunty Barb who recognises that the race can be used for political and social change in unlikely places such as sleepy little Appleton.
Right off the bat, the language lets you know that this is a play where no topic will be off limits. Elliot immediately puts you at ease with it, for while her words may be colourful, her delivery is smooth and masterful. There is something disquieting yet comforting in hearing an old battle-axe like Bev express her views on the taboo topics of the world.
Elliot is matched superbly by Anderson. Her face speaks the volumes we all think, while her heart-felt monologue about infertility is delivered with understated poise and dignity.
Known for her role as the over-the-top Geraldine in Kucom’s The Vicar of Dibley, Larsen delivers a surprisingly different character complete with resplendent accent, grace and nuance.
Newcomer Lewis delivers her character with all the depth and natural delivery you would expect from the seasoned performers surrounding her. Keep your eyes on this one.
And lastly, Roche’s ‘Doctor Penny’ is the thorn-in-the-side, fish-out-of-water, black-sheep catalyst that holds the story together and so too, does Roche. Ever-there for her cast mates, Roche commands the stage, engages the audience and delivers a strong leading lady. Kudos to director Luana Royale for casting such a formidable team.
The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race season is over two weeks at Kucom Theatre, Snow Wright Court, Andergrove.

‘A Mackay Festival of Arts Fringe Event’ presented by Kucom Theatre.
Directed by Luana Royale

Thursday 18 – Saturday 20 July at 7:30pm
Sunday 21 July (Matinee) at 2pm
Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 July at 7:30pm

Tickets at

Carolyn, Amanda and Pia at last week’s rehearsals for The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race

Katrina, Jeany and Amanda

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