Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
by Ray Lawler
The Doll is slightly plot-driven – there is exposition and some suspense arising from the arrival of
characters and the outcome of events, however it is mainly character-driven.   Believability of the
characters and the ability of them to take the audience with them emotionally are key elements of
the dramatic effect.
There are two key moments of the play (sorry to spoil the plot for you) - the fight between
Barney and Roo, and Olive’s rejection of Roo’s proposal.   These don’t work properly if the
audience isn’t brought along with the characters emotionally, and I have seen it fail as a result.   I
have also seen the magic brought alive on a couple of occasions by characters you get to know
and love.
The Setting
Melbourne: December 1953 and into January 1954, including the third scene set on New Year’s
Character Information
[Source: The script itself]
Bubba Ryan (22)   A shy-looking girl of about twenty-two … a touch of wistful authoritiveness.
Pearl Cunningham   is a biggish woman well corseted with dyed hair.   She is a widow driven
back to earning a living by the one job she knows well, that of a barmaid, though she would
infinitely prefer something more classy – head salesman in a frock salon, for instance
Olive Leech (39)   Despite a surface cynicism, there is something curiously unfinished about
Olive, an eagerness that belongs properly to extreme youth…. She is a barmaid at the same city
hotel as Pearl, but unlike the latter, she enjoys the job
Emma Leech (Approaching 70)   She is a wizened life-battered wisp of a woman nearly seventy,
with no illusions about humanity, expecting the worst of it, and generally crowing with delight
when her expectations are fulfilled
Barney Ibbot (40)   owes much of his success in love to this natural technique: he has an
overwhelming weakness for women and makes them recognise it.   Previous mention of him as a
little man is not...