A story of love, heartache, hope and loss, Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll remains one of the theatrical canon’s most moving explorations of the fading of youth and dreams. Crackling with earthy humour, the play evokes the sense of possibility and simple optimism in post-World War II Australia.
Every summer for sixteen years, cane cutters Barney and Roo have come back from Queensland to suburban Melbourne to share their holidays with barmaids Nancy and Olive. This year though, the cycle is broken. Nancy has married and Olive has lined up Pearl to take her place. Each one of the four must face questions about the kind of life they really want and whether, perhaps, there is something new and vital to be found by the breaking of old patterns.
Director Geordie Brookman sheds new light on one of the great pillars of our national theatre as The Doll celebrates its 60th anniversary in this State Theatre Company of South Australia production.
“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to direct this play for a long time,” says Brookman. “I think it is one of the most perceptive and moving examinations of middle age in the Western canon and it’s crying out for a raw, direct and highly charged new production.”
Ray Lawler is an Australian actor, dramatist and producer. His most notable play was his tenth, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1953), had its premiere at the Union Theatre in Melbourne in 1955. The play is considered to be a turning point in Australian theatrical history; being one of the first works to portray truly authentic Australian characters. The story of The Doll is preceded by Kid Stakes, set in 1937, when the characters of The Doll are young adults, and then Other Times, which is set in 1945 and includes most of the same characters.
Director: Geordie Brookman Cast: Elena Carapetis, Lizzy Falkland, Annabel Matheson, Tim Overton, Jacqy Phillips, Chris Pitman, Rory Walker Set & Costume Designer: Pip Runciman Lighting Designer: Nigel Levings Assistant Lighting Designer: Susan Grey-Gardner Composer: Quentin Grant Fight Choreographer: Duncan Maxwell
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is currently playing at Adelaide’s Dunstan Playhouse until 16 May before transferring to Sydney’s Glen Street Theatre: 19 – 24 May. For more information, visit: www.statetheatrecompany.com.au or www.glenstreet.com.au for details.
Image: courtesy of State Theatre Company of South Australia