Mary Anne Butler – Playwright

Highway of Lost Hearts

Reviews for Highway of Lost Hearts:

“…an absorbing piece about loss and change, the importance of country and the power of a journey.” – The Canberra Times

“Mary Anne Butler’s unique one-woman play, “Highway of Lost Hearts,” proves to be one of the hidden gems in The Street Theatre’s winter season.” – City News

“…an excellent reminder of how good Australian theatre can be…” – Canberra Critics Circle

“…as humorous as it is gut-wrenching… Highway of Lost Hearts is a great piece of theatre.” – Lip Magazine

“A [Darwin] festival highlight …vivid, often hilarious… written and performed with great heart.” – NT News

“…the best piece of theatre I’ve seen in years.” – Nicole Beyer, Director, Theatre Network Victoria


Highway of Lost Hearts Synopsis:

A woman. A dog. A campervan. And 5,000klm of wide open road.

Mot wakes up one morning to find that her heart is missing from her chest. She can breathe; she has a pulse – but she feels… nothing.

So, she decides to go and look for it. With her Dog enlisted as co-pilot, Mot heads down the Highway of Lost Hearts: into the deepest core of the Australian outback –  navigating red dirt landscapes, fire and flood, brittle dry-ness, vast salt lakes,  age-old mountains and murky waters filled with lost souls. And the further Mot drives into the deepest heart of Australia, the more she realises that everyone around her seems to be missing some vital part of themselves.

And then there’s the Dog – full of her own canine wisdom, and trying to guide Mot back on a course towards hope – if only Mot would listen better.

An allegory for a country that’s lost its heart, Highway of Lost Hearts is half gritty road journey, half magic realism and all heart. It leaves you pondering the question:  when your heart goes missing, what lengths will you go to, in order to find it again?


Production History:

Highway of Lost Hearts premiered at the 2012 Darwin Festival with a 2013 return season by demand at Browns Mart Theatre, and a 2014 three-month national tour. In addition to the above reviews, audience feedback nationally was overwhelming, including:

“What a fantastic magical night last night watching Mary Anne Butler’s solo woman performance in the Highway of Lost Hearts at the Araluen Arts Centre. Raw, emotional and humorous. Best show I’ve seen in a very long while…” – Yvette Holt, Indigenous poet and academic

“This is the most exquisite piece of Australian playwriting I have seen for a long time, rich vibrant stories, humourous, terrific Aussie vernacular, and Mary Anne Butler’s performance is not just a tour de force but she has managed to take us on a rollercoaster of roads both bumpy and beautiful.”
– Susan Hayes, Cairns

“Absolutely loved it… an actor and writer of consummate skill. Bravo, Mary Anne.” – Belinda Griffin, Cairns

“The Alice Springs Audience was electric, absorbed by the story the vulnerability and the punchiness of the show.” – Melissa Kerl, Totem Theatre

“…just saw Highway of Lost Hearts. I laughed, I cried, I recognised everyone she met. I know the road and relived the emotions I have had riding it. I played with the dog and fell in love with Mary Anne. Brilliant, emotional, vibrant and joyous. I loved it. Thanks for the tip, love dad” – Brendan Fraser-Bell, Canberra [to his Darwin based daughter, CJ].


Cast and crew as follows:

Writer: Mary Anne Butler

Director: Lee Lewis

Mot: Mary Anne Butler

Dramaturgy: Lee Lewis and Peter Matheson

Set Design: Kris Bird

Lighting Design: Sean Pardy

Sound Design: Panos Couros


2 thoughts on “Highway of Lost Hearts

  1. Have almost lost heart searching for performance venues/dates…. :-(. .. I’m in Melbourne…….

  2. Sorry Deb – I’m not very active on this site! My apologies.

    Highway of Lost Hearts has a Facebook Page if you want to join that, it’s constantly being updated re: the tour, book launch etc.

    The Vic touring dates and venues are:

    August 1: Ballarat – Her Majesty’s Theatre
    August 6-9: Geelong [GPAC]
    August 12&13: Drysdale [Potato Shed]
    August 15&16: Warrnambool
    August 22&23: Williamstown [Mechanics Hall]

    I think the Williamstown shows are the closest we get to central Melbourne.

    Again – apologies for the inactive site, and I hope the above information helps.

    All the best,
    Mary Anne

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