From Australia with Love
by Andrew Wilson
With Madame Rubenstein barely two weeks from opening, Jez Bond is coming to the end of an unusual process: developing a script with a writer who lives halfway around the world. “It’s the first time I’ve worked on a play where the playwright’s not been in the same country,” he says.
One of Australia’s most successful television screenwriters and playwrights, John Misto lives eleven time-zones away in Sydney. The two communicated by email, Skype and telephone with Jez usually phoning Misto at 11 or midnight London time, which was the beginning of the Australian working day. Jez describes the script’s progress below, including the two staged readings held at Park Theatre in February and November 2016.
The original script came to Jez care of Miriam Margolyes, who has homes – and since 2013, citizenship – in both the UK and Australia. “I’ve known Miriam for a few years now, since she started coming to see our work here," he says. Margolyes received the script from Misto’s agent, and brought it to Jez in 2015. Jez loved the play’s humour and strong story arc, and began to work with Misto began almost immediately.
Jez reports happily that Madame Rubenstein has had unusually strong advance ticket sales. Although John Misto is a well-known figure in Australia, his work is less familiar to British audiences. So what explains the play’s box office success before it even opens?