Simon Burke has come full circle since his debut in the 1976 film, The Devil’s Playground, returning as Tom Allen 35 years later in Foxtel’s new 6-part dramatic series that continues his story.
The year is 1988 and Tom Allen (Burke) is now in his 40s, recently widowed and a man of catholic faith. Centring on a Catholic boys school, the church, and the leaders of the Catholic Church in Sydney, the series begins with the disappearance of a friend’s son and Allen’s appointment as counsel to priests on church-related issues.
The series introduces Allen’s family, the parish community members and church leaders providing a diverse view of the people of this faith. From the simple worship as a practicing Catholic to the dealings behind closed doors of the church leaders, the series promises to explore a world that has such a high media profile and perhaps expose or bust myths and practices of those involved.
The cast is the who’s who of Australian TV and film including Toni Collette, Jack Thompson, Don Hany, John Noble, Leon Ford, Anna Lise Phillips as well as a strong cast of young boys.
Burke’s role in particular highlights the interesting push and pull of someone with faith in a primarily scientific role, which leads to the uncovering of scandal and the systemic cover up of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.
A series filled with intrigue, scandal and quality Australian drama, it promises to be our answer to the UK’s Broadchurch and build upon the success and intrigue of the original film.
Reviewed by Hayley Horton
Rating out of 10: 7
Series 1 of Devil’s Playground is now available on DVD.