Plays by Timothy Daly

Rights available on request.

Kafka Dances

Kafka Dances won over a dozen national and intentional awards, and is the most internationally-performed Australian play of all time. In 2009, it concluded a 20-city tour of France, culminating in a season at the prestigious Festival of Avignon. In 2010, the play will make its debut in Poland and Noumea Polynesia.

Currently, translations of the play into German, French, Norwegian and Polish are in preparation. Its American première took place in Anchorage, Alaska. The French translation (L’Homme dans le Plafond) opens in Paris in 2011.

 “A TORTURED, neurotic, tubercular young man struggles to come to terms with the suffocating oppression of his bourgeois Jewish family. He is one of the last of the great doomed artistic geniuses of the Romantic age as it collapses in the trenches of World War I. We forgive all his failings because of the power of his art and because he is dying of TB.

He resolves to work dutifully in his father’s factory and to marry a respectable young Berlin office worker, but he is haunted by a wildly disreputable vision of his life provoked in his imagination by the vulgarly popular Yiddish theatre troupe he meets down at the cafe.

Eventually his muse triumphs, he rejects family and fiancée and settles down to write as the lights fade …

The fact that he is Franz Kafka, with an entire vision of the human condition now named for him certainly doesn’t hinder the legend-building that underlies this intriguing and highly entertaining play.”

John McCallum, The Australian.

Available from Currency Press ISBN 0868193887 (pbk.) : 0868193887 (pbk.)

Richard III (or almost)

World-première at the prestigious Festival of Avignon in France.

Two men are locked in a room, and forced by mysterious authorities to play and replay sections of Richard III. Its a game, but it’s a deadly game, and their lives may well be at stake.

BERNARD: I think they liked it.
GUY-LAURENCE: So they should. We did it quite well. And better than yesterday.
BERNARD: You think so?
GUY-LAURENCE: I do. And you were definitely better than yesterday.
BERNARD: Thank you.
GUY-LAURENCE: It could be we’re not meant to enact any violence upon each other?
BERNARD: As if we would!
GUY-LAURENCE: But we have.

Derrida in Love

“Who is Derrida? If you know the answer to that question, you would query if Derrida would ever be in love.

It helps to know that Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher and critic who emphasized the importance of text, with multi-layered interpretations, over direct expression of an author’s intention. In the late 1960s he named and popularized ‘Deconstructionism’, taken up particularly by US critics.

Do not let the preceding paragraph obfuscate your desire to see the best Australian play written and produced in a long time. Timothy Daly has taken the confusion of identity between Aussie actresses, Jacki Weaver and Lynette Curran, and turned it into a delightful comedy of scholastic and sexual politics.

The laughs are fast and furious as confusion fuels farce and the striving for recognition ignites the parody of academic aspirations. Jacki Weaver, cute and sexy, plays Lina as a wife going with the flow. Andrew Tighe’s Jack uses Derrida’s deconstructionism as naïve bewilderment. Miranda is linking material, while Jacqueline’s late entry creates the mystique of interpretation. If she really is Derrida’s lover does she wield power and influence? Or is she a figment? And Derek’s metamorphosis: is he genuine or hiding behind a façade? Who of Derrida’s followers would dare interpret any of this ‘nonsense’?

Because of these questions this play is a lot of fun. The actors are flawless in their execution of ambiguity. The direction is assured and lucid. The design, lighting, wardrobe, stage management, and choreography ensure a first class presentation. And the writing is outstanding as Timothy Daly provides witty repartee with the clever amalgamation of Derrida’s claim to fame and the lives of academics eager for recognition.

“‘Derrida In Love’ is a treat for any ‘lay person’, Derrida-wise or otherwise. But then, that is my interpretation.”

Elly Inta, Sydney Observer.


The Man in the Attic

The Man in the Attic is based on an amazing, but little-known, true story.

In the last months of World War II, a Jewish man was taken in (as a high rent-paying tenant) by a German couple in the small town of Elmshorn in the north of Germany. To both the ‘deal’ was reasonable: Jews were being hunted down, and for the Jew, being sheltered meant the difference between life and death. For the German couple, taking this man in was highly dangerous, especially in a small town. But they did it, because of the money.

The absolutely true twist came when the war ended with Nazi Germany’s surrender in May, 1945. For the couple, the only way to avoid what was a general starvation in Germany then, was for the Jew to keep paying rent. And so, believe it or not, what they did was, they didn’t tell him the war was over! So here was this Jewish man, holed up in an attic, genuinely grateful for being sheltered from the Nazis, and for over 6 months of peace-time, he was kept in the dark (literally and metaphorically).

This play is the telling of that extraordinary story…

The Private Visions of Gottfried Kellner

Jack Kellner, a suburban bank manager, and burned-out idealist sees a young woman burn herself to death in a park. He tries to save her, but receives some minor burns for his trouble. Shattered by this horrific death, he meets the twin sister of the dead woman. Her name is Rachel, and she asks him to help her recover the money her grandfather left in a Zurich bank prior to his capture and murder by the Nazis. It was the failure of this that led the dead woman to suicide.

Jack initial refuses, but Rachel not put off. She has seen his superb computer skills at work, and is convinced that he can do what she and her dead sister could not.

Soon after, Kym meets a young, good-looking Swiss, Conrad Altmeier, who claims to be on the side of the angels, and offers to help both her and Jack in their efforts to trace this money. Using Jack’s skills and Conrad’s inside information, they begins hacking into Swiss bank accounts… with terrible consequences.

‘A terrific political thriller, but more than this it is also a superb piece of late 20th century mythologizing … the cleverest,most intricately plotted drama on the Sydney stage. Highly recommended’.

Colin Rose, Sun Herald.

‘A thrilling vision of a world of corruption, conspiracy, Swiss banks and drug cartels – a refreshingly original work’. 

Sunday Telegraph.

‘Balancing the books on morality. The joy of Gottfried is that it tells a good solid story’.

The Advertiser.

14 Lessons for a Wolf Boy

A metaphysical thriller, just completed, for 4 actors. (3 male, 1 female)

A young man is found in the forest, unconscious from a motorcycle accident. The only witness is another young man, who refuses to speak. The injured young man’s mother is determined to find out the truth about what happened to her son.

Beach a Theatrical Fantasia

‘Beach: A theatrical fantasia was begun many years ago, probably when I was a child. I have memories of being taken to the beach, being almost drowned, being sun-burnt, or being dumped by waves no swimming teacher could have prepared me for; but mostly what I remember is the extraordinary happiness of the place. It seemed that the beach was the freest place on the planet, where no worry could survive the combined assault of sun, sand, water and fresh air.

But then came adolescence. The beach became for me a place of yearning, excitement, great hopes and the occasional arena for intense social embarrassment. And that was before I got to adulthood, by which time I knew that not only much of my personal -history had happened on a beach, but so had Australia’s.

That’s why big and little events, past and present are woven into the play. As the play says, my aim was to make this not just my beach, but yours as well, by including experiences we have all had or could imagine having. That’s why a range of stories, moods and experiences are included.

Many historical and social threads are also woven into this play. The ghosts of history visit the beach as often as the living. Much of our history has taken place on the beach. Here in Australia, the beach is much more than ‘just a beach’. By considering the beach and its place in our lives we can begin to understand ourselves as a nation.

It’s not all sand and sunshine, and there are some genuinely dark moments. But feel free to dive into this world anyway. It might just be a world you recognise’.

Timothy Daly, Playwright.

Available from Macmillan Drama Studio ISBN 0 7329 9270 2


Carl Adams has a problem. And his problem? Well, he’s been told he’s too happy for his own good. He needs the help of a really good therapist. But each one he tries, well, something happens…
THOMAS: What are you talking about?
CARL: Well, they all, sort of, fall in love with me.
THOMAS: I’m sorry?
CARL: Not right away. But sooner or later, it always happens.

In some way, or maybe another.
But it happens.
But this time, it’ll be different. He’s found a fabulous, husband-and-wife team of therapists, and neither of them will fall in love with him, will they?
A full-length, two-act comedy for 3 actors (2 male, 1 female).
Rights still available in most countries.
Two versions, in English and French.


The Moonwalkers


Eric, an urban architect on the edge of professional desperation, and Dianne find their lives invaded by the oddball neighbours downstairs.

Gina and Joseph live by night, play bad saxophone, and do research on the effects of the moon on human behavior.

Eric resists their advances, but Dianne badly wants a child. She invites the two in, and a strange relationship begins that changes the safe normal orbit of Eric and Dianne’s lives.
The consequences are funny and scary, and in a strange sort of way enlightening.

‘The hit Kafka Dancers revealed genuine promise, The Moonwalkers announces a coming of age for this humble, hard-working playwright.’

James Waites Sydney Morning Herald.

“A dark disturbing comedy about urban madness and telling jokes. The play bustles with energy, issues and dramatic ideas. A jazz symphony of words, sounds and visual effects. A spontaneous combustion that shakes the whole universe.
Three couples, three dimensions and Chaos, Order and Kosmos, which are really all the one thing – for the play tells us that Chaos is Order about to recreate itself, and Kosmos is the Greek word for Order, and so the three are one.”

Wendy Brazil, Art Sound.

If you like a bit of adventure in your theatre-going this one’s worth a ticket.



Harold is married to Ruth, and earns his living as an unhappy piano teacher in the suburbs. One day, in the middle of a furious argument, Ruth drops dead, and Harold, shocked by his guilt at ‘killing’ his wife with unkind words, sinks into depression.

He’s rescued from this depression by Moya Rosenthal, a feisty Jewish woman determined to learn piano regardless of her lack of talent. Not only that, but she convinces Harold to follow his youthful dream of emulating the explorer David Livingstone’s search for the source of the Nile. Together, the two of them go on a journey of self-discovery and shared enthusiasm that ends in a great healing and love for both of them.

‘A delightful mirth-making and moving story of love building between two not so young people. A piece of quality theatre with general public appeal’.

Peter Morrison, The Australian Jewish News

‘A romantic comedy in which the elderly take on the role of the traditional young lovers and their children become the wintery oppressive nay-sayers’.

John McCallum, The Australian.

‘A warm hearted and uplifting account of late-life romance’.

The Messenger.


The Don’s Last Innings

Every night, after dinner, an ordinary suburban couple play a game of cricket. No Ordinary game, but a dance of marriage and death.

A surreal black comedy about love marriage and cricket. Sydney production by the Sydney Theatre Company. Adelaide production starred Geoffrey Rush.
One act play. 50 minutes

For 2 actors, 1 male, 1 female.

Available in Popular Short Plays Vol 1 Currency Press ISBN 0 86819 105 1