Production honours life of comedian “plagued by demons”


The Civic Theatre is set to end 2020 in style with a production in the Playhouse of Being Sellers.

Based on the life and times of Peter Sellers, the play debuted at the Playhouse in 1998 and has returned this year to mark the 40th anniversary of Sellers’ untimely death at the age of 54.

Sellers was known for his ability to transform into character. He starred as Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther and also appeared in Dr Strangelove, and the BBC radio comedy, The Goons.

Playwright Carl Caulfield, who won a CONDA Award for Best Actor when the play debuted, has reprised his role.

“Like so many others, I was a fan of The Goons but I was also drawn to Sellers’ great talent for mimicry,” Caulfield said.

“As a playwright, I was keen to explore this chameleon aspect of his personality – this ability to lose himself entirely in his fictional roles.

“It was a gift that came at a price for Sellers. I hope this recent production will remind us of Sellers’ unique talent and introduce him to a new audience.”

Directed by Caulfield’s brother-in-law, Jonathan Biggins, the early production toured to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before enjoying a season in London.

Biggins is also back for this year’s production and said it has been interesting to see how both he and Caulfield approached the show 22 years after its debut.

“I enjoyed it very much the first time but it’s a fascinating exercise to come back and look at it with fresh eyes and, especially for Carl, older and more experienced eyes,” he said.

“Carl is able to give a more honest and deeper performance because he has the extra life experience.

“He’s now older than Sellers was when he died, so I think that’s been very illuminating.

“Peter Sellers is a difficult person to care about because he’s not the most pleasant of human beings.

“He was, beyond question, a great transformative actor but one who was plagued by demons and his own sense of insecurity.

“He was difficult to live with and known for being very mean to his family. But he was an extraordinary actor and a great comic.

“He is responsible for some of the great comic creations, remembered so fondly by people of a certain generation.”

Stray Dogs Theatre Company’s Being Sellers is at the Playhouse for five performances. It opened last night (Wednesday 25 November) and will close on Saturday 28 November.

Shows are hosted nightly at 8pm, with a matinee performance at 2pm on Saturday.

For bookings, phone the Civic Theatre Ticket Office on 4929 1977 or visit its website.

Being Sellars
The Stray Dogs Production Team during rehearsals.