Jack Charles and Samantha Murray in the Perth production, The Playhouse, 1993
Ruth is a 16 year old girl growing up in Perth in the 1950s. She stays with her grandparents regularly. The family myth is that she goes because she enjoys it. Actually it is her roleand that of her sisters on different nights of the weekto protect her grandmother from her grandfather's drunken rages. While she admires her grandmother's strength and endurance, the visits are associated with a feeling of dread and hopelessness as the routine of violence and appeasement is endlessly repeated.
The grandfather is known as a bit of a lad at the pub and often brings home drifters, often as inebriated as himself, to rent a lean-to in the back yard for extra money. Dixie, a part-Aboriginal man who works on stations around Meekatharra, seems different. He is self-educated and capable of staying sober for weeks at a time. He is appalled by the subliminal violence in the house, but agrees to rent one of the rooms temporarily. He stays in the camp from then on, every time he comes to Perth.
Ruth is engaged by his unusual life history and footloose life style. A friendship develops which lasts over a number of years, through his long absences and occasional binges. When he eventually succumbs to the lung disease that has plagued him since the Great War, he leaves her all his possessions500 pounds and a suitcase full of booksand a sense of her right to live her life in any way she may choose.
© 1997, 1998 Lois Achimovich
Cast and crew of the first production, The Playhouse, Perth, 21 October - 6 November 1993
Ron Graham: Bert
Anne Phelan: Abbie
Sally Sander: Jean
Samantha Murray: Ruth
Jack Charles: Dixie
Simonette Miles, Kristelle Conti: dancers
Andrew Ross: Director
Steve Nolan: Set and costume designer
Mike Nanning: Lighting designer
New: 29 August 1998 | Now: 18 May, 2018