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The story of Australia’s most famous bushranger Ned Kelly is set to star on stages in a massive 39-venue national tour, including Canberra Theatre Centre on 24-27 June.

Written by Queensland playwright Matthew Ryan, Kelly had its world premiere season in 2012 as part of QTC’s Mainstage program, and won critical acclaim.

While history states Dan Kelly perished in the Glenrowan Hotel fire, Queensland playwright Matthew Ryan explores a brother’s betrayal, escape and plan for a new life in Queensland in Kelly. It’s a new look at Australia’s greatest bushranger.

Ned Kelly has never faded from our national consciousness. Indeed the passing years have served only to build Kelly’s legendary stature because he had so many qualities ordinary Australians admire – loyalty to his family, readiness to sacrifice himself for his mates, and as Australia’s most famous bushranger he lived his life bucking the system. However, Matthew Ryan’s Kelly presented by QTC suggests Ned’s brother Dan wasn’t as ready to lay down his life for his comrades and escaped the siege at Glenrowan, leaving Ned for dead.

It was over a century ago when Ned and his three gang members made their famous last stand at Glenrowan. On June 26, 1880, the boys held up the town in a two-day gun battle with the Victorian Police; the showdown condemned Ned to the gallows, with Joe Byrne, Steve Hart and Dan Kelly all presumably dead.

But for years, even decades later, it was Dan Kelly who would go on to be sighted more times than Elvis Presley. Newspapers reporting Dan Kelly sightings around South-East Queensland in the 1930s gave credence to the legend of his survival. From an Ipswich ‘swaggy’ and a Worth Circus sideshow act, to a ‘Dalby horse buyer’ and even a Boer War soldier, Dan Kelly – man on the run – had more personalities than Ned ever had stolen horses and run-ins with the constabulary!

According to QTC Artistic Director Wesley Enoch, Kelly takes us on a quest to explore Australian cult hero Ned Kelly in a totally new light. “Kelly gets our national conscience ticking at a different tempo, we begin to weigh up one brother’s self-proclaimed cowardice against the other’s bravery,” said Enoch.

On the night before his execution, Ned Kelly sits in his grimy cell at Old Melbourne Gaol when his brother Dan, who Ned believes died at Glenrowan, visits disguised as a priest. Dan is seeking Ned’s forgiveness before fleeing to Queensland to forget his past, with a new name and a new life.

Ned and Dan have been through everything together – brothers in arms, of the same blood and name – but each with a very different perspective of their past. “It is Dan’s request for a blessing that is not an easy ask, especially given his escape from Glenrowan without rescuing his famous and revered brother Ned,” said Enoch.

Ned Kelly has been an enduring presence in the Australian psyche for more than 130 years.  He is part of the nation’s mythology, repeatedly re-emerging through Australia’s art, literature, film and music. Kelly presents a fresh perspective, through a new lens that will totally enthral audiences.

Tickets from www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au


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