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Doll Seventeen
Year 2002/ 2003       Location Brisbane Powerhouse / Brisbane QPAC

Director's Notes
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It is my intention not to present the play, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, but a designed impression, a fantasy of the play driven by the language of the senses. I offer here an intuitive impression, rich in movement and music. Olive, Roo, Barney, Pearl and the Kewpie Doll all drift through enmeshed in their dreams and nightmares. Surrounded by the vocal and musical chorus of the three probing realists, the main players continually search for equilibrium in a tilting world. Popular songs, movie themes, tangos, mambos, blues, etc. intersect throughout with the principal protagonists' world allowing them time for reflection on their interior life.

Within the creation of this work I have been moved by the need for Western theatre to enter the realm of the fantastic to allow it freedom to extend its range and capabilities and to enjoy the broad storytelling landscape that the theatre of the East has enjoyed and exploited for many centuries. Thus the extensive mixing of movement, music, dance and text is at the core of my invention. To tell this story I have created a synthesis of the arts in a non-realistic form. I believe that great traditional theatre has always dealt with the double identity of the actor as actor and the actor as sign. Therefore, to allow the actors to realise themselves as other than everyday life I have consciously released them from the constraints of realism/naturalism/behaviour and allowed them to find a layer within which the actor can exist as symbol.

The original work on which this production is based is a seminal Australian play. In the 1950's this play was shown nationally and internationally to great acclaim. Playwright, Ray Lawler, has given permission for director/choreographer Jacqui Carroll and Frank Theatre to re-present his most famous work, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, in the form of a theatrical fantasy. As theatre is the most intense and public place where the human species does its imaginings it is fitting that in 2002 this famous work is re-invented and re-shown.

"Frank’s ironically bitter sweet production emerged as a dark triumph – as the ‘essential’ Doll. ….. it imaginatively and skilfully re-membered the original in a torpedo-charged, wittily theatricalised version…..Frank’s achievement was to reaffirm The Summer of The Seventeenth Doll’s ‘classic’ status."
Real Time December 2002

"A tourist arriving in Brisbane during festival time might detect a schism within local drama. The most heavily subsidised Queensland theatre companies have spent their Brisbane Festival peddling drama straight out of the Anglo-Irish tradition. Over at the Brisbane Powerhouse, meanwhile, the real innovators are establishing meaningful connections with the culture of our region.……For the first time Suzuki-influenced Frank has taken on an Australian classic……the result is a production that displays local talent to its best advantage. A breathtaking snippet from Doll Seventeen, Jacqui Carroll's adaptation of the Ray Lawler classic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, whet the appetite during Frank's retrospective last year. Now, with typical intelligence and quirky humour, Carroll's complete production has pared to the bone Lawler's tale of two canecutters heading to Melbourne during the layoff season.

Roo (John Nobbs) and Barney (Conan Dunning) enter the stage, unforgettably, down a pathway of sunlight, bringing with them the myths of mateship and rural testosterone that still resonate nearly 50 years after the original play's creation.

This breathtaking production is sustained through its visual images. Highlights include the opening set-piece as the Doll (Lisa O'Neill) sings a chipmunk version of Cher's If I Could Turn Back Time, a staggering New Year's Eve party scene and a dodgem car derby with hot pink mini-armchairs.

The rigorous Suzuki method has been softened to accommodate Australian realism, but in the end Doll Seventeen is a thrilling reinterpretation that will go down as a highlight of this year's Brisbane Festival."
The Australian 2002

"Frank Theatre's Jacqui Carroll seems to have reached her artistic home and heartland with Doll Seventeen her vision of Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll playing at the Powerhouse Visy Theatre for a Brisbane Festival season.

…Carroll has re-interpreted the work according to her concepts which are grounded on the need for theatre to embrace, question and celebrate universal human essences by eschewing the constraints of realism, so it can match the mindset of an already fractured 21st century world.

She has distilled the essence of this prize-winning play and placed on it rich layers of emotion and multi-performance genre forms to show us Lawler's images in a new and fascinating light.

…meticulous stage detailing contributed to a taut drama, the striking, simple black, white and pink set comprising a wall of black fake fur with doors and mirrors opening, closing and spinning…"
Courier Mail 2002
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