This one's not about Effie: Mary Coustas' new show

This is Mary: The many sides of Mary Coustas will be explored in her new show hitting the Sydney Opera House. Picture: Cybel Malinowski
This is Mary: The many sides of Mary Coustas will be explored in her new show hitting the Sydney Opera House. Picture: Cybel Malinowski

"It's time to put the puppet to the side for a minute and meet the puppeteer."

Everybody knows Effie, but not everyone knows the woman behind the character: Mary Coustas.

Now the comedian and actress is showing a little more of herself in her new one-woman show hitting the Sydney Opera House: This Is Personal.

"It's a 'Mary' show, and it's the first time I've done that," she told the Advertiser.

"I've gone commando really. I feel like Effie has been my public mouthpiece over three decades - happily so - and she's a big part of me, the child in me.

"Effie gave birth to an avenue for me to express a lot of the stuff I wanted to through this character - up herself, blatant, transparent, and all those things. That's why the public took to her so much.

"But I've been having this craving for the last five or so years, maybe since becoming a mother, to want to express more without that shield of animation and Effie there to protect me in many ways.

"So for this one show I'm ridding myself of Effie and going to the core of me, and what motivates me."

Coustas said Effie was incredibly important to her, and just because she would be absent from This Is Personal, didn't mean she was going away forever.

She said she'd love to keep exploring important themes through Effie while also performing as herself in future.

"Theatre plays an important role in detoxifying and elevating [outcast] stories and making them universal," Coustas said.

"We all see ourselves. It makes us feel that we're not alone and that's been my objective from the minute I started working as an actress; to out all those issues.

"Certain issues are evergreen - gender, race, class, sexuality - issues that are not topical. These things that divide us should intrigue us and make us feel more excited as opposed to smaller, and that's what really motivates what I do."

Coustas said This Is Personal would be a "dramatic, very funny, honest and raw" show.

And unlike Effie shows, this one will be closer to theatre than stand-up comedy, and won't be interactive.

"I worked so hard on really condensing this show down to something super powerful and memorable, and I hope it resonates long after the audience has left the show," Coustas said.

"I want people to walk out feeling taller and stronger and able to oxygenate themselves from the pain of life."

Coustas particularly encouraged the people of her beloved Camden to head to the show and take a moment for themselves after the trauma of the recent flooding.

"I know it's been hard for people in Camden and they've been really challenged by what's been happening," she said.

"I would love Camden people to take the time to come to the Opera House, this beautiful, iconic venue, have a glass of champers and watch me do what I do.

"I think it's worth the trek. I have such an affinity for the community and I just want Camden to have a good night out, switch off and find comfort in other people."

This Is Personal is running at the Sydney Opera House from May 25-29. Tickets start at $75, or $19.99 for livestream access to the May 28 performance. Tickets on sale now from

ACM has one double pass to give away to This Is Personal to the 2.30pm performance on Saturday, May 28. For your chance to win, simply fill out the form below and tell us in 25 words or fewer why you're keen to see the show.

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