The Play in the Theatre single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 1955-1978 1955-1978
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Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler , London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z522838 1955 single work drama (taught in 56 units)

    'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

    'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replace by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

    Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

    Paddington : Currency Press , 1978
    pg. xxiii-xxxx
Last amended 5 Mar 2015 16:37:24
Subjects:
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    Australia,
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  • London,
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    England,
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    United Kingdom (UK),
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    Western Europe, Europe,
  • New York (City), New York (State),
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    United States of America (USA),
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    Americas,
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