The Trouble with Harry was awarded Honorable mention in the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Play Writing Competition. It was winner Best Production and Best Direction for Melbourne Green Room Awards and shortlisted for Best new play Melbourne Green Room Awards, The Nick Enright Award for new plays NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2014 and Best script at the Western Australian Premier’s Literary Awards 2016. It was shortlisted for Australian Writer’s Guild AWGIE Best Australian Play 2013.

The French translation L’Affaire Harry Crawford by Gisele Joly was supported through Maison Antoine Vitez Paris. The first reading was in Paris at La Comedie Francaise in 2016. Following the reading it was selected by the jury for recommendation for production for La Comedie Francaise.

Reading at Comedie Francaise

L’Affaire Harry Crawford has also had readings at Troisieme Bureau Grenoble [2017] and Theatre Libre Saint Etienne [2017].


I hide my secret well until one night plain and bright as the stars in the sky – the captain sees. He pulls me aside asks me to report to his cabin. A little drink together and we talk and talk. A slip of the tongue and him locking the door as he says: There’s something I’ve noticed about you.


Harry Crawford and his wife Annie seem happy enough. Together they lead quiet, unexceptional lives in the suburbs of 1920s Sydney, working and raising a child. But when Josephine arrives at the door, it sets in train a series of events that will result in an astounding revelation. Based on the extraordinary true story of the ‘Man-Woman’ murder that shocked turn-of-the-century Australians, The Trouble with Harry is a disorienting tale of deception and enigma which poses an essential, human question: can we ever really know what lies in the heart and mind of someone else?

Production history:

Premiered by Theatre of Pluck at The Mac Belfast 2013, MKA Theatre Melbourne as part of Melbourne International Arts Festival 2014, Seymour Centre Sydney 2017, Siren Theatre Sydney 2017, staged reading at World Theatre Festival Brisbane 2012.


★★★★★Critic’s Choice
“Without doubt, this is the best new play to come out of this country in a long while… A play that is unafraid to navigate the clichés of the Aussie period drama, that cuts into our cultural prejudice and unresolved gender assumptions, that squarely lays the blame back in the laps of its audience, is a play worth seeing. That it is also poetic and rich and moving renders it unmissable.”Tim Byrne TimeOut Melbourne

★★★★ ½
“The Trouble with Harry is an excellent new Australian play. The truth behind the play is even stranger than Philpott’s condensation but his aim – to portray some version of emotional reality and to dramatise the speculative intimacies involved – is ambitious and achieved with great vigour and sensitivity… It’s great to see a strong Australian play receive such a skilled and memorable premiere.” Cameron Woodhead The Age

“It’s fairly easy to track the influence Patrick White has had on fiction writing in Australia but far less simple to spot his influence on playwriting here. Or, indeed, to discern if White has had any influence on Australian drama whatsoever. For 60 years, White’s peculiar style of drama has seemed like an evolutionary dead-end. A significant part of the appeal of The Trouble with Harry is the poetic ear and alien eye that Sydney playwright Lachlan Philpott brings to his true-crime story. They’re unmistakably White-like. Philpott’s play about Harry Crawford, who was convicted of the murder of his wife Annie in the early 1920s, is a poetic fugue for voices. The language is heightened without being self-conscious or arch. Philpott’s easy use of a louse-ridden bantam hen (which turns out to be a rooster) as a device is as effective as the bitch-on-heat motif in White’s The Season at Sarsaparilla.” Chris Boyd The Australian

“An eloquent example of what grown-up, gender-conscious theatre is capable of achieving…it is a play which all those interested in our ongoing evolution as sentient social beings would benefit from seeing. What is ‘authentic’ and unalterable in human nature, and what is up for negotiation? The Trouble with Harry doesn’t answer these questions definitively, but poses them with particular intelligence and acuity.”
Terry Blain Irish Theatre Magazine