The action of the play takes place at the Pluckup Silver Mining Camp near Broken Hill in the New South Wales Barrier Ranges. The heroine of the story, Alice Power, is the newly arrived barmaid engaged by Baldy Davis and her adventures there lead to falling for Charlie Holt, the holder of the original Pluckup claim. Complications arise through Charlie's wicked cousin, Joseph, who not only wants the claim but also Alice and the share in Broken Hill. He devises a number of desperate plots in order to attain his ends but naturally fails in the end, and with the arrival of a two long lost relations Alice and Charlie's union is given familial blessing. The play is said to have also contained a number of 'thrilling scenes,' including the climax fist fight between the two cousins (Argus 25 September 1911, p9).
Bedford set most of the scenes in the bar of Baldy Davis' shanty hotel, the centre of social life at Pluckup. The Age theatre critic records that 'therein collects an extraordinary set of characters, the majority of whom possess the common feature of an unquenchable thirst.'
The scenes are : Act 1. Interior of Baldy Davis' Hotel ; Act 2. The same ; Act 3. Sc 1. The same ; Sc 2. The Plain ; Sc 3. The Pluckup Mine ; Sc 4. The Plain ; Sc 5. Interior of Baldy Davis' Hotel.
The incidental was composed by Arthur Chanter and Guido Carracciolo.
The Melbourne critics were in agreement that the play was flawed both structurally and dramatically. The Argus suggests, for example, that while author clearly understood the life with which the play deals this was to its disadvantage. 'Most authors of successful melodrama write about scenes of which they understand nothing. They are then able to allow their dramatic sense free play and that is what the public want in melodrama. Mr Bedford has hampered the dramatic action and the dressing of the play in order to keep it true to actual life. Real life on a mining rush is mostly dirt and disappointment and tawdry, commonplace roughness. Mr Bedford has kept his picture true to life and as a consequence it fails as a play' (25 September 1911, p9).
The Age review also notes : 'Mr Bedford unfortunately has handled his plot in such a manner that while the audiences finds repeated opportunity to yawn in two acts it has hardly time to gasp at the astonishing episodes of the final scenes.' The critic reports, too, that the audience appeared to grow impatient before the middle of the second act and treated the remainder of the piece as a farce' (25 September 1911, p11).
1911 : Princess's Theatre, Melbourne ; 23-30 September. Dir. Randolph Bedford; Prod. George Marlow Ltd (representative Alex J. Carroll) ; Stage Mngr. Henry Neville ; Music Dir. George Leopold ; Scenic Art Harry Grist ; Business Mngr (for Mr Bedford) Ronald MacLeod. Cast incl. Kenneth Brampton (Charlie Holt), Mary Herries (Alice Power), Harry Diver (Joseph Holt), George Bryant (Baldy Davis), Robert Grieg (Buck Crawford), Norman Campbell (Robert Sands), Harry Neville (Jersey Clarke), Lester Carey (Barney Cue), J. H. Booth (Bob the Finisher), Charles Wheeler (Frank the Artist), William Ladd (London Bill), Marie Le Croisette (Maude Timms), Madge Herrick (Mrs Pontet), Margherita Bedford (Sarah Reed).
This entry has been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian popular theatre being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.