IN the 1960s one of the most popular soap operas in England was based on a cheerful nurse who rode around her small country town, but the actress that played her was a foul-mouthed, gin addicted sadist in a lesbian relationship.

June Buckridge shot to fame playing Sister George on the popular BBC radio show Applehurst and a play was made about her life when she found out her character was going to be killed off.

Buckridge — who people began to call George in real life — became unbearable on set, at home and was cruel to her live-in lover Alice “Childie” McNaught.

The Killing of Sister George became an instant cult classic when it was turned into a film, especially among lesbian audiences for whom Buckridge’s story became iconic. Now the team at G.Bod theatre have resurrected the play as part of the 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival.

“In the UK especially it got a cult status with the movie in the mid-60’s. It’s the first time openly lesbian characters had been portrayed on stage,” director Peter Mountford said.

“It’s a story that’s never been told, especially for these characters that are in the 40s and 50s you don’t really get that age lesbian story told on stage.”

Natasha McNamara (L) and Deborah Jones. (Photo: Supplied)

Natasha McNamara (L) and Deborah Jones. (Photo: Supplied)

A change in times and attitudes allow the latest production of The Killing of Sister George to explore themes more deeply than in the 1960s.

“The main two characters, George and Charlie, there’s a bit of an S & M relationship between them, which was sort of glossed over originally and we explore it a bit more in-depth, a little bit more realistically because it was played for comedy originally,” Mountford said.

For the first time in the show’s history all of the actors are lesbians playing lesbian characters, Deborah Jones (Angry Boys, Redfern Now, We Can Be Heroes), who plays the lead role in The Killing of Sister George.

Mountford said many of the play’s themes, such as the lack of roles for middle-age women, are still relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

“It’s a play even now 50 years later, pushes people’s buttons and makes them think about the darker side of relationships, how far people go in relationships to keep them going,” he said.

“It’s funny, it’s entertaining, there’s some cracking lines in there. There’s excellent performances from an all-female cast.”

The Killing of Sister George:
Dates: Wednesday, February 24 to Sunday, March 13
Times: Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 5pm
Venue: King Street Theatre, 644 King St, Newtown
Tickets: Adult $35.00, Concession $30.00

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

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