PLAY AN IN­SIGHT INTO AUSTRALIA

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Lifestyle -

THEATRE EAST Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dent Phil Bar­nett is tak­ing to the stage next month in an Aus­tralian play from the 1950s that high­lights par­al­lels with to­day’s fly-in, fly-out work­ers.

Writ­ten by Ray Lawler and di­rected by Trevor Dhu at the Old Mild Theatre, Sum­mer of the Sev­en­teenth Doll is con­sid­ered by lit­er­ary schol­ars to be the most sig­nif­i­cant in Aus­tralian theatre his­tory be­cause it pro­vided a turn­ing point where dis­tinctly Aus­tralian life and char­ac­ters were openly and au­then­ti­cally por­trayed.

Two itin­er­ant cane cut­ters, Bar­ney and Roo (played by Bar­nett), have spent the past 16 sum­mers off with two ladies in Mel­bourne.

Ev­ery year, Roo has brought a tin­sel doll to his girl Olive, as a gift to sym­bol­ise their re­la­tion­ship, but this 17th sum­mer is dif­fer­ent some­how.

All four lovers come to face cer­tain un­pleas­ant truths about them­selves in what is de­scribed as an un­usual, com­pelling love story.

“Roo is a 41-yearold cane cut­ter who can no longer com­pete with the younger men,” Bar­nett said.

“To be able to ap­pre­ci­ate the ten­sions within the play, you need to un­der­stand the so­cial con­di­tions of the 1950s, such as the gen­der roles, at­ti­tudes to­wards sex­ual moral­ity and tradi- tional no­tions of Aus­tralian iden­tity. It’s ac­tu­ally been de­scribed as Australia’s A Street­car Named De- sire with its mix of ro­man­tic dreams and fragility com­bined with harsh truths and gritty re­al­ism.”

Pic­ture: www.liq­uid­pixol.com

Sum­meroftheSeven­teen­thDoll cast (clock­wise from bot­tom) Phil Bar­nett, Anna Head, Jar­rod But­tery, Jen­nifer McGrath, Pa­trick Whitelaw, Jesse McGinn and Shirley Toohey.

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