Darlinghurst was Australia’s heart of darkness in the burlesque aftermath of World War II—a heaving slum, home to prostitutes, gangsters, druggies, con-men, crooked cops, petty crims, sly grog, bent pollies, psychos and SP bookies.

The rest comprised poor, honest battlers doing their best in difficult times. Or so it seemed. Several battlers were further afflicted by spectacularly unpleasant Thallium poisoning, NSW being the only state where deadly Thallium-based rat poison could be purchased freely.

Unpleasant husbands, friends and relatives surplus to requirement, fared ill on the statistical spike.

Rat Follies is based on the true stories of Balmain footie star and league international Bobby Lulham, who accidentally drank the suicide draught mixed by his remorse-wracked mother-in-law and lover Veronica Monte; down-to-earth Beryl Hague, driven to desperation by mindless brutality; Yvonne Butler/Fletcher, who lost two entirely unsatisfactory husbands to the popular, cruel but effective rodenticide; and, above all, Darlinghurst’s 'saintly' grannie Caroline Grills who sent two step-mothers, a sister and brother-in-law to their reward while striving to murder her sister-in-law and two young friends in nearby Redfern.

As told from the deathbed of a relatively minor, and not too trustworthy, cop, set in Sydney’s gothic sewers, satirically seasoned and performed by a nimble ensemble of rat-like actors with rat puppet support, Rat Follies is an epic entertainment and seamless spectacle, a dark circus tumbling on to the highest courts of the land and the tabloid-tailored trial of Mrs. Caroline Grills—Aunt Thally, Loony extraordinaire.

  • epic black comedy
  • 130
  • 16 total
  • 8 female identifying, 8 male identifying
  • history
  • 16 to 18, 18+
  • adult, young adult
  • Australian Script Centre


Search for details of past productions at

AusStage provides an accessible research facility for investigating live performance in Australia.

Search by play title and/or playwright name
Results will open in a new window

PLEASE NOTE: You will be directed to for search results; Australian Plays Transform is not responsible for their completeness. Refer to our terms of use.

SKU: ASC-1347 Category:

We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024