by Stephen Carleton

A Playlab Theatre production, presented in partnership with Metro Arts

I’m not abandoning my principles; I’m coming here to apply them.

1971. The height of the Cold War. The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia is opening up to Western tourism after breaking away from the Soviet Bloc. Branislav and Valentina Radovic have been compelled to design a hotel complex for the government after forging a reputation for designing ultra-modern concrete structures, triggering their lofty utopian political and architectural ideals.

Present-day. New York City. A talented Australian Geo-Engineer, Natalia Silverman, has been asked to join the team designing New York’s ‘Big U’ – the sea wall mitigation project that will cradle Manhattan’s financial district from rising sea levels. But building a sea wall around the world’s iconic home of big business, is forcing her to ask herself; is she really saving New York, or just working for the bad guys?

Brutal Utopias examines the intersection between lofty ideals and realpolitik, and the search for perfection in a world that is tilting imminently toward chaos.


This is one of three plays in Playlab Theatre’s 2022 season, presented in partnership with Metro Arts.

Click here for information on the rest of the season, and season passes.

Please note: In line with Queensland Health regulations, all patrons and visitors at Metro Arts will be required to be fully vaccinated. Proof must be presented on entry to venue staff. Find out more.


Wed 18 May – Sat 28 May


18 – 19 May 7:30pm Previews
20 – 28 May 7:30pm


120 minutes total, including 20 minute Interval


New Benner Theatre
Metro Arts, West End


General Admission $45 + booking fee
Concession $39 + booking fee
Groups 6+  $39 per ticket + booking fee
Preview $39 + booking fee

Booking fee $0.50 per ticket purchased

For School Group Bookings, please contact info@metroarts.com.au or CLICK HERE


Suitable for 15+. Contains low-level coarse language, references to war and conflict, and some adult themes.


Stephen Carleton

Stephen Carleton is one of Australia’s leading and award-winning playwrights. Based in Brisbane, where he teaches drama and playwriting at the University of Queensland, he also maintains close ties to his hometown, Darwin, and to Cairns and Far North Queensland, where he was born. Stephen’s work is frequently anchored in northern landscape, imagery and politics, and is often lauded for the black humour that runs throughout. He is co-artistic director of Knock-em-Down Theatre with Mary Anne Butler and Gail Evans.

Stephen is one of only three playwrights nationally to win both major theatre industry awards for new writing: the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award in 2004/5 (Sydney Theatre Company) and the Griffin Award for Best New Australian Play in 2015 (Griffin Theatre Company).

He was Chair of the National Playwrights Committee for the Australian Writers’ Guild in 2015/16 (with Mary Anne Butler), and his company Knock-em-Down Theatre has received a Sidney Myer capacity building grant to promote his work in the US.

His major plays include: Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset (2006), The Narcissist (2007), Bastard Territory (2014), all published by Playlab Theatre, The Turquoise Elephant (2016), New Babylon (2021), and the musical with Paul Hodge, Joh for PM (2017).

His plays have been produced by companies including Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, JUTE Theatre Company, Brown’s Mart in Darwin, La Mama, and the Brisbane Powerhouse.


Playwright Stephen Carleton

Dramaturg Saffron Benner

Director Matt Scholten

Designer Bill Haycock

Sound Designer Guy Webster



Kate Wilson

Ashlee Lollback

Michael Mandalios

Nikhil Singh

Anthony Standish


Playlab Theatre is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. Brutal Utopias is also supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.


We take the safety of our patrons, staff and artists seriously.  Metro Arts is operating in line with current Queensland Government guidelines and restrictions. If you are unwell, please refrain from attending events at Metro Arts. Maintaining physical distancing requirements is expected and is the individual’s responsibility. Click here for more information.