Brutal Utopias by Stephen Carleton

Brutal Utopias by Stephen Carleton

‘I’m not abandoning my principles; I’m coming here to apply them.’

1971. The height of the Cold War. The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia is opening up to Western tourism after breaking away from the Soviet Bloc. Branislav and Valentina Radovic have been compelled to design a hotel complex for the government after forging a reputation for designing ultra-modern concrete structures, triggering their lofty utopian political and architectural ideals.

Present-day. New York City. A talented Australian Geo-Engineer, Natalia Hoskings, has been asked to join the team designing New York’s ‘Big U’ – the sea wall mitigation project that will cradle Manhattan’s financial district from rising sea levels. But building a sea wall around the world’s iconic home of big business, is forcing her to ask herself; is she really saving New York, or just working for the bad guys?

Brutal Utopias examines the intersection between lofty ideals and realpolitik, and the search for perfection in a world that is tilting imminently toward chaos.


“It is no wonder that this production has seen sold-out performances for its all-too-short-run.” – Beth Keehn, Stage Whispers

“Crafted down to its finest details, it gives its audience much to consider with regards to idealism and compromise, making it both of its times, as all great pieces of theatre are.” – Blue Curtains Brisbane 

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Wed 18 May – Sat 28 May 2022


Wed 18 May – Thu 19 May


Fri 20 May


New Benner Theatre, Metro Arts


90 minutes, no interval


Suitable for 15+.


Stephen Carleton


Saffron Benner


Matt Scholten


Bill Haycock


Guy Webster


Geoff Squires


Leigh Buchanan


Tiff Lane


Ashlee Lollback

Anthony Standish

Kate Wilson

Michael Mandalios

Nikhil Singh

Stephen Carleton

Stephen Carleton

Stephen Carleton is one of Australia’s leading and award-winning playwrights. Based in Brisbane, where he teaches drama and playwriting at the University of Queensland, he also maintains close ties to his hometown, Darwin, and to Cairns and Far North Queensland, where he was born. Stephen’s work is frequently anchored in northern landscape, imagery and politics, and is often lauded for the black humour that runs throughout. He is co-artistic director of Knock-em-Down Theatre with Mary Anne Butler and Gail Evans.

Stephen is one of only three playwrights nationally to win both major theatre industry awards for new writing: the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award in 2004/5 (Sydney Theatre Company) and the Griffin Award for Best New Australian Play in 2015 (Griffin Theatre Company).

He was Chair of the National Playwrights Committee for the Australian Writers’ Guild in 2015/16 (with Mary Anne Butler), and his company Knock-em-Down Theatre has received a Sidney Myer capacity building grant to promote his work in the US.

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His major plays include: Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset (2006), The Narcissist (2007), Bastard Territory (2014), all published by Playlab Theatre, The Turquoise Elephant (2016), New Babylon (2021), and the musical with Paul Hodge, Joh for PM (2017).

His plays have been produced by companies including Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, JUTE Theatre Company, Brown’s Mart in Darwin, La Mama, and the Brisbane Powerhouse.


A Playlab Theatre production presented in partnership with Metro Arts. Playlab Theatre is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. Brutal Utopias is also supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.