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Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler

Thursday 27 October 2022
7.30 pm


Adult - $40.00 ea
Student - $28.00 ea
Group 4+ - $35.00 ea

Suitable for ages 15+. Adult themes.
Duration - 2.5hours



Reserve a table at our pre-show Stars Dining for Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler

Stars Dining utilises the online reservation system - Open Table.
Simply select the number of people attending, the date of the performance and preferred time, and click on 'Find a Table'. Then select from the times available before filling out your details.

Reserve a Table

Presented by Ipswich Civic Centre


Playwright – Ray Lawler
Producer – Christine Harris & HIT Productions
Director – Denny Lawrence
Set & Costume Designer – Adrienne Chisholm
LX Designer – Niklas Pajanti


Plays and playwrights go in and out of fashion but some endure and speak to each subsequent generation.

Lawler’s much loved tale of Queensland cane cutters and Melbourne barmaids has endured, not through nostalgia, nor because it spawned a new age in Australian writing, but because the characters and their dilemmas are so true, so beautifully observed, so humorous and so poignant.

A triumph at its 1955 Melbourne premiere, it was followed by a national tour and hugely successful season in London’s West End where it won an award for best new play.

For sixteen years two Queensland cane cutters have worked the punishing routine up north in the sugar cane fields for seven months of the year and travelled back to Melbourne to meet up for five months of partying and romance with their barmaid girlfriends.

This seventeenth summer everything is different.

One of the barmaids has ‘settled down’ and married a city bloke so a replacement date has had to be found.

This ‘off-season’ proves challenging for them all.


This production will be directed by the award-winning Denny Lawrence whose history with HIT includes many successful productions including Shirley Valentine, Always…Patsy Cline, Educating Rita, Glorious! Hotel Sorrento and most recently, My Brilliant Divorce. Denny will be supported by a highly-experienced creative team.



“The Doll is a wonderful piece of theatre, that isn’t really about a moment in our past, but about the search for love and the disappointments, denial and heartbreak that can come to those who refuse to see the realities of the world around them”. Australian Stage

“A story of love, heartache, hope and loss, Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll remains one of the theatrical canon’s most moving explorations of the fading of youth and dreams”. Arts Review

“The ‘shock of recognition’ that wowed Australian audiences in 1955 has long since died away, but the play’s universal qualities — most especially its textual discipline, intensity of feeling, and fully formed tragic effects — remain potent”. Daily Review

“Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” provides a rare and theatrically realistic glimpse into an Australian working-class psyche that is not simply from the past but is still ever-present.” City News

“More than sixty years after its debut, Lawler’s play still holds a mirror that reflects Australian society”. Out In Perth

“Hope, love, mortality, delusion, class identity and gender equity are all explored within the single setting of a 1950s inner city Melbourne lounge room; the familiar setting ensuring the conflict resonates with audiences even nearly 70 years down the track”. Arts Hub

“Historical without mentioning pertinent historic occurrences… Lawler, consciously or nay, bathed the script in an essence of agelessness, the kind of universally relevant theatre that has kept audiences topping up their glasses in the manner of watching and re-watching the greats”.  Crikey



This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

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Acknowledgement Of Country