'I’ve sat on it thirty years. Burns a man up inside. There’s a lot of forget in me but not much forgive.'


Les and Irene are celebrating their wedding anniversary. Gifted with the holiday of a lifetime, they set sail on the Women’s Weekly Cherry Blossom Cruise bound for the cultural mysteries of Japan. But amongst the sun hats, theme nights and piña coladas Les, a former WWII prisoner of war, soon finds himself confronted by old diggers, enemies and tormented memories. As the cruise ship floats closer towards its destination, Les’ grip on reality floats ever further away.

An electrifying descent into one man’s wartime nightmare, The Floating World is a resonating tale of the long-lasting effects of war and the ugly world of xenophobic Australia. Following the success of his sold-out productions of Speaking in Tongues and The Boys, Sam Strong returns to the Griffin fold to direct this neglected Australian classic, last staged at the Stables in 1975 and heralded as an ‘unruly masterpiece’.

Cast & Creatives

Director Sam Strong
Designer Stephen Curtis
Lighting Designer Verity Hampson
Composer Kelly Ryall
Assistant Director Pierce Wilcox
Associate Lighting Designer Sara Swersky
With Valerie Bader, Peter Kowitz, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Justin Smith, Justin Stewart Cotta and Shingo Usami

Performance Times

Previews 4, 5, 7, 8 October
Season 11 October – 16 November

Subscriber Briefing post-show 15 October

Monday – Friday 7pm
Saturday 2pm and 7pm

Approx. 2 hours & 20 minutes including one 20 minute interval.


‘Sam Strong’s revival is riveting from its comic set up to its emotionally devastating end…Kowitz delivers one of the standout performances of the year in what is also one of the best productions overall.’ 10/10 The Sunday Herald 

‘The Floating World is one of the very best productions of the year. Don’t miss it.’ ★★★★ ½ (4.5/5 stars) Sydney Morning Herald

‘Peter Kowitz gives one of the best performances of his 40-year career as a traumatised PoW in John Romeril’s forgotten gem of a play.’ ★★★★ ½ (4.5/5 stars) The Daily Telegraph

‘The play’s the thing in this beautifully staged but viscerally disturbing revival of a forgotten classic.’ ★★★★★ (5/5 stars) TimeOut Sydney

‘As the 50s moved into the 60s, and Australia was starting to forge a new relationship with Japan…the terrible experience of men such as Romeril’s dark hero Les Harding was being pushed into the background…Romeril brought it into the light again….Sam Strong’s superb revival, with an excellent cast led by Peter Kowitz and fine design by Stephen Curtis and Verity Hampson, brings it back for new generations.’ The Australian

‘A superb production…hits you in the head, heart and guts.’ ★★★★ ½ (4.5/5 stars) The Sunday Telegraph

‘Recent history and social change have conspired to enhance and re-focus the richness of John Romeril’s wonderful play of 1974; and Sam Strong’s fine production confirms both its classic status and its relevance for new generations in 2013…It’s one of the best productions of the Sydney year.’ Stage Noise

‘This is a fascinating and sensitive production of a play which has arguably only grown in relevance. Highly recommended.’ Australian Stage

‘Sam Strong has returned to The Griffin with a revival of an Australian classic that is close to a perfect piece of theatre.’ Gay News Network

‘A towering achievement.’ John Shand

Blog Posts

Wrong Way Go Back: John Romeril on The Floating World


“In my head The Floating World is a Wrong Way Go Back traffic sign.” Laurence Hodge as Les Harding in the Nimrod Theatre Company production of The Floating World, directed by Ken Horler (1975). In the first of three blogs, playwright John Romeril writes...

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Wrong Way Go Back: John Romeril on The Floating World (Part Two)


“That The Floating World isn’t an even-handed play is a given.” The ‘Entertainment Officer’ in an early production of The Floating World. In the second of three blogs, playwright John Romeril responds to one sociologist’s reaction to his play The Floating World in 1975,...

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