Reviewed by Richard Lane
What was different about the seventeenth summer of the “layoff” for Barney, Roo, Olive and Nancy that changed their previous follies forever? Nancy had married and was replaced with the straight –laced, indignant Pearl. The fun, the revels and the celebration of the previous sixteen summers have gone. As tension get to breaking point, they come to realise that what they had is over. Their futures looks bleak.
Jude Hines’ production of Ray Lawler’s updated and iconic play, intelligently traced the downfall to its shocking conclusion and the relationships of the two larrikin sugar-cane cutters with their two city barmaids. Hines demanded and elicited, ensemble playing in this actor’s piece, and also strong consistent characters for the most part .
Act 1 was a little slow on opening night but that will surely settle in. Act11 brought the building tension to its denouement with Roo’s shocking proposal of marriage to Olive, and the shattering of their fantasy world.
The four main actors, Allison Scharber (Olive), Maxine Grubel (Pearl), Rodney Hutton (Roo) and Glen Christie (Barny who was a marvellous drunk) held the production tightly together. Penni Hamilton-Smith threatened to steal the show as the ascerbic yet comic Emma but Eleanor Kay, as the next- door Bubba, needed a little more effervescence. As the ganger cane-cutter Johnnie Dowd, Jonathan Johnston was a suitable offset for Roo but one wondered how well he would have managed the cane cutter.
Nick Spottiswood’s set was redolent of 1950’s Carlton but should have been shabbier to show the reality of the place underneath the kewpie dolls and the tinsel after they were torn down by Olive.