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The Secret River

A Sydney Theatre Company Production

by Kate Grenville
adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell

23 August to 7 September 2019
Running Time: 2hrs 50mins approx inc interval

5 star rating

A compelling historical epic

Daily Telegraph
4 star rating

A sweeping saga with deep currents. Riveting

The Times
4 star rating

A mammoth production that takes a small family story and projects it onto a narrative of nations

What's On Stage
4 star rating

Masterly storytelling: memorable and moving

4 star rating

Thumpingly powerful, cracklingly atmospheric: a huge and impressive piece of theatre

Time Out
4 star rating

A stunning, shattering piece of theatre that goes to the heart of Australian history

Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
4 star rating

A powerful confrontation with Australia’s colonial past.

Financial Times

The Secret River

A deeply moving and unflinching journey into Australia’s dark history. Adapted from Kate Grenville’s acclaimed novel, this multi-award-winning production from Sydney Theatre Company tells the story of two families divided by culture and land. 

William Thornhill arrives in New South Wales a convict from the slums of London. Upon earning his pardon he discovers that this new world offers something he didn’t dare dream of: a place to call his own. But as he plants a crop and lays claim to the soil on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, he finds that this land is not his to take. Its ancient custodians are the Dharug people.

It was with great sadness that we acknowledged the passing of actor Ningali Lawford-Wolf from the company of The Secret River. Ningali’s family gave their blessing for the London season to proceed. 

Neil Armfield directed a large ensemble cast, with live music by composer Iain Grandage. This hauntingly poetic production was conceived in collaboration with Aboriginal artists and is performed in Dharug as well as English.

Please note: This production contains strong language, scenes of violence and descriptions of sexual violence.

Image from the Australian production © Tom Huntley, used with permission from the family of Ningali Lawford-Wolf.

Talks and events

Director Neil Armfield on The Secret River Wed 28 Aug, 5.45pm
Contemporary Responses to Indigenous History Thu 29 Aug, 5.15pm


Sydney Theatre Company   

Arts Council Australia         NSW logo

The Secret River 2019 tour is supported by Ian Narev & Frances Allan, Gretel Packer and commissioning patrons Catriona Mordant AM & Simon Mordant AM and David Gonski AC & Orli Wargon OAM.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., Sydney Festival, Perth International Arts Festival and The Centenary of Canberra

The Secret River | Bringing Australian history to the stage

More info

The Secret River ticket prices and Access performances

Ticket prices

Monday - Thursday eves, all matinees
*£86, £66, £57, £46, £32, £15
Friday & Saturday eves
*£89, £69, £60, £52, £35, £20

Access Performances

Audio-described performances, for blind and visually impaired people:
Fri 6 September, 7pm
Sat 7 September, 1pm preceded by a Touch Tour

Captioned performances, for deaf or hard-of-hearing people:
Mon 2 September, 7pm
Wed 4 September, 1pm


*Some of the best seats in the house are premium priced. They help to ensure we can continue to offer low price seats for all our productions; the National Theatre is a charity and only 17% government-funded. This year nearly 30% of our tickets are available for £20 or less.

Smart caption glasses

People wearing Smart Caption Glasses at a performance in the theatre

Smart caption glasses are a revolutionary new way for people with hearing loss to enjoy performances at the National Theatre. For the first time, service users can experience our productions, including this one, from any seat in any theatre.

Find out about smart caption glasses


Sal Thornhill
Georgia Adamson
Dan Oldfield
Joshua Brennan
Shaka Cook
Marcus Corowa
William Thornhill
Nathaniel Dean
Mrs Herring
Melissa Jaffer
Elma Kris
Thomas Blackwell
Colin Moody
Smasher Sullivan
Jeremy Sims
Bruce Spence
Sagitty Birtles/Suckling/Turnkey
Matthew Sunderland
Pauline Whyman
Pauline Whyman
Dubs Yunupingu

Production team

Image (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) from the Australian production © Tom Huntley, The Advertiser

Help Centre

For general ticket information

Browse the frequently asked questions for tickets

For general ticket information

Browse the frequently asked questions for tickets