“Everybody’s capable of anything. If they think it. They can do it.”


A girl on a footy field cops a blow to the head and her bag is stolen. A teenage boy grapples with his role in a disturbing event. A woman relives a nightmare while her doctor looks on. None of them saw it coming. None of them were ready for what happened next.

Taking its title from the name sex workers use for aggressive clients, Peta Brady’s Ugly Mugs emerged from a Melbourne shocked by violence against women and interrogates the culture of abuse lurking in the shadows of every Australian city. Daring, provocative and topical, it asks complex questions about vulnerability and responsibility.

A co-production with Malthouse Theatre.

Cast & Creatives

Director Marion Potts
Designer Michael Hankin
Lighting Designer Lucy Birkinshaw
Composer Darrin Verhagen
With Peta Brady, Steven Le Marquand, Sara West and Harry Borland

Cast note: Griffin is delighted to welcome Sophie Hensser to the cast of Ugly Mugs, replacing Sara West who will be leaving the production to take up a television role. Sophie is one of the stars of Channel 9’s Love Child and was last seen at Griffin in our production of Silent Disco. She will be performing from 11 August (with the exception of performances on Saturday 16 August).

Performance Times

Previews 18, 19, 21, 22 July
Season 25 July – 23 August

Subscriber Q&A after the performance on 5 August

Monday – Friday 7pm
Saturday 2pm and 7pm

Approximately 70 minutes with no interval


Ugly Mugs makes it possible for us to appreciate and even enjoy elements of a play that peers into the dark places of our cities and our psyches” Jason Blake, Sydney Morning Herald

“All in all, Ugly Mugs is a triumph for Peta Brady. She has crafted a meaningful drama that illuminates as much as it engrosses… it’s one of the more remarkable plays to bring the mean streets to life, not least because its authenticity is palpable and the drama as truthful as it is often shocking.” Diana Simmonds, Stage Noise

“Brady does a great job of seamlessly blending grim humour with the haunting tale.” Jordi Roth, Women’s Agenda

“Steve Le Marquand is spot-on for dual role of Doc and Mug (two sides of one coin)… But the real heart of the production is Brady, whose character and performance are charismatic and provide an unexpectedly humorous counterpoint to dark material. The writing is damn funny.” Dee Jefferson, Time Out Sydney

“[Peta Brady] new play sharply captures that underbelly world with the same rough diamond bravado, wit and street poetry which Daniel Keene first brought to his disadvantaged characters two decades ago.” Martin Portus, Stage Whispers

“Brady [is] visceral, disciplined, affecting and often brilliantly observed.” Angus Cerini, The Age

“[Marion Potts] intrinsically understands and expertly manages the broad collaboration of artistic forces that come together to make the stage sparkle with ideas, wit and charm.” Michael Kantor

“Brady gives a thrilling performance… Powerful theatre. Highly Recommended.” Elissa Blake, The Sun Herald

“Brady draws on her experience working among sex workers in St Kilda to build the gritty realism, vivid central character, hard-boiled dialogue and bluntly brutal descriptions in the play.” Kate Herbert, Herald Sun

Ugly Mugs shines a light on the darkest parts of our streets and forces us to acknowledge some hard truths. You can’t ignore it.” Ben Neutze, Daily Review

Ugly Mugs is emotionally raw theatre.” Anne-Marie Peard 

“Brady lights up the stage. Her emotional intelligence and her talent for humour, with such grim subject matter, are especially effective. And her play cuts through the middle-class bubble that seems to encapsulate most contemporary Australian drama.” Cameron Woodhead, Sydney Morning Herald

Blog Posts



When actor/writer and safety outreach worker Peta Brady brought the idea of Ugly Mugs to director Marion Potts, she was ‘horrified, moved, confronted by our own ignorance’.  Ugly Mugs began when Peta Brady came to the theatre in early 2012 to tell...

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Writer Peta Brady talks to us about real life ‘Ugly Mugs’ and how they’ve informed her new play. Street-based sex work is illegal in Victoria. This anomaly in the law creates barriers between police and street-based sex workers, who are...

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Griffin Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Company would like to respond to Jane Green’s blog post, endorsed by Scarlett Alliance and Vixen Collective, regarding our companies’ production of Ugly Mugs. Click here to view Jane Green’s blog. In Peta Brady’s play Ugly...

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