“through your power and your excellence alone

have I recognised the goodness and the grace

inherent in the things I have been shown.”

(Paradiso 31.82-84; trans. Ciardo)

“Dante Alighieri, exiled from his home in Florence, a fugitive from justice, followed a road in 1302 that took him first to the labyrinths of hell then up the healing mountain of purgatory, and finally to paradise. He found a vision and a language that made him immortal.” (Harriet Rubin, Dante In Love).

The journey from infernal to heavenly worlds perennially inspires authors. 

Writer/director Geoffrey Sykes traverses the dank wood of bestial destructiveness to steadfastly come to an Earth replenished and reborn in joy.

Paradise Now” is the lyrical gem he has created. He takes us through a primordial pit of dread to an upland bathed in bliss.

Paradise Now” is Geoffrey Sykes’s latest theatrical immersion into creative movement, evocative music, a delectable visual feast and, above all, immortal verse.

Actor Shabnam Tavakol, like Dante’s Beatrice, deftly guides the audience on the soul-freeing journey.

At once a lost and lonely outcast in a gloom-ridden wood, she turns into the harbinger of predation, then a peregrine falcon in swift flight, then a magnolia in full bloom, then a woman in whose open palms the Earth rests, then the divinity from whose womb stars and galaxies come, then a girl bathing in the waterfall of exhilaration and, finally, the embodied whirling dervish uniting, in infinite verve, all things.

Shabnam Tavakol lures the audience, sometimes confronting it face-on, sometimes teasing the onlookers as she dances, expressively lit, behind a veil, but most of all she bespells the audience by the poetry she recites.

Paradise Now” is at the Horizon Theatre, a community-run oasis, tucked away in the verdant grounds of Wiley Park parklands. 

Devised and directed by Geoffrey Sykes. Performed by Shabnam Tavakol. Technical/lighting by Nicholas Johnston and Daniel Barber. Horizon Theatre manager Maddy Slabacu.

Season details :

Horizon Theatre 25th and 26th September

Wollongong Workshop Theatre 17th and 18th October and 22nd November

Bookings and info at