Cristina in the Cupboard

Reviewed by Ellen Becker

The time and space we have to retreat from the shallows has become profoundly scarce. Our social lives are now thoroughly enmeshed with the algorithms and “trends” of social media while our work lives have pervaded the home with the pernicious accessibility of email. It’s so difficult to escape or live outside of. To defy can mean death, or, more accurately, irrelevance. Where in this world can we cut out a space for introspection?

For Cristina, it’s her cupboard. The place you could easily fit in as a child, hiding during games or away from trouble, a safe and dark space for imagining, and in C.S. Lewis’ tales of Narnia, a place of escape. Cristina (Emily McGowan), retreats to her new haven to escape the competition and artifice that her sparring friends, Belinda (Tasha O’Brien) and Erica (Lucy Quill) frequently fall prey to. They try to help their friend emerge, but their vain attempts often end in a competitive game of giving up. Cristina’s sister Anna (Rachael Williams) regales her with memories of their childhood, including a formative encounter with a “sea monster,” Leviathan, but to no avail. By wrenching herself from the worldly ties that hold her relationships together, Cristina may dissolve into an even darker place.

Depot Theatre stalwart Emily McGowan imbues Cristina with a whimsical innocence and calm, which nicely juxtaposes against her capricious friends. While the performances were each well executed, the cast felt at times disconnected, particularly in some poorly blocked scenes. The cleverly conceived stage design by Depot Founder David Jeffrey (who also plays Cristina’s dad), is plucked from the childhood memory that dominates the play, turning the space of the “cupboard” into a sandy oasis. Cristina in the Cupboard is a beautiful reminder that sometimes we all need to retreat, in order to emerge – to take the time for ourselves, in order to fit snuggly back into the world again. 

Cristina in the Cupboard is showing at The Depot Theatre Marrickville until the 30th July. For times and tickets, visit


Photos by Katy Green Loughrey