22 January 2012

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

We recently saw the MTC's current production of the Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.  I saw it years ago  - in fact, it may have been one of the first MTC plays that I ever saw.   I hasten to add, however, that was some time after it was first produced in 1955!
I had forgotten the story line, so I looked at this production through fresh eyes.   To recapitulate, for 16 summers, Roo and Barney have spent their long layoff from the cane-cutting season down in Melbourne having a good time with two Carlton barmaids, Olive and Nancy. But back for their 17th summer, it seems time has finally caught up with them. The play is all about the dawning of this realisation and the ability (or inability) of the different characters to "move on".  
The play is, of course, regarded as a classic (perhaps because it was ground-breaking when it wa first produced), so it may be that my thought that some of the initial scenes could have been slightly tightened up is out of place.  Likewise, it's a little odd that the storyline contains no acknowledgement of the fact that it's hard to envisage that there could have been a period of 17 years in the first half of the 20th century when external circumstances (wars, depression etc) would not have brought change to the lives of cane cutters, barmaids and boarding house owners.  
In places, there's some great acting in this production,  even though both Sue and I commented at the first interval that initially we had to strain our ears to decode the 1950s Australian accents!

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