Hot on the heels of Malthouse’s Looking for Alibrandi comes another stage adaptation of a much-loved novel about growing up in Australia as the child of migrants. Published in 2014, Alice Pung’s Laurinda sees an Asian-Australian teen from a working-class suburb win a scholarship to a posh private girls school. Together with Melbourne Theatre Company’s Associate Director Petra Kalive, writer Diana Nguyen has added a little Freaky Friday to this Mean Girls tale in order to emphasise how classism, racism and other kinds of prejudice – both casual and overtly nasty – most certainly don’t end at graduation. As the pair observe in this play’s program, quoting Kurt Vonnegut, “life is nothing but high school”.


Chi Nguyen, Gemma Chua-Tran and Jenny Zhou, Laurinda, Melbourne Theatre Company, 2022. Photo © Jeff Busby

While Pung’s novel is set entirely in the 1990s, when teen Lucy Lam attends Laurinda girls school, the play begins with grown-up Lucy in the present, before thrusting her back in time to inhabit her own Laurinda-era body. This scenario’s potential for fish-out-of-water comedy is...