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Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

by Ray Lawler

Directed by Barry Hayes

Season: 10th February - 30th March 1996

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a play of stature. It's about many things: growing up and failing to grow up; dreams and illusions shaken by realities and the passing of time; responsibility and irresponsibility; sowing and reaping, etc; but what interested me most was Lawler's encapsulation of a new mythology, an Anglo-Celtic Australian mythology or dream-time. Roo Webber and Barney Ibbott come into the Leech household as heroes. These cane cutters from Queensland who fly south to Melbourne for the lay-off season are larger than life, yes, almost mythical figures. Olive Leech their barmaid friend, compares them to "a coupla kings" and "eagles flying down from the sun". The realist of the play, Pearl Cunningham, finds the comparison ridiculous, but she too has her own dreams.

The characters of Lawler's play, like all human beings, need their dreams and mythology and romanticism, they need their own personal dream-times, just as Australians of Anglo-Celtic origins need a dream-time to return to. In his play, Ray Lawler provides an occasion for this in helping to clarify just what it is. We do need to go forward and progress and grow-up, but at times we also need to return.

Cast: Kelly Ward, Frances Milat, Anne Lewis, Alan Johns, Susan Carveth, Bill Haydon, John Delaney