Summer of the Seventeenth Doll at Stirling Theatre, Western Australia

AN AUSTRALIAN stage classic written by playwright Ray Lawler – who turned 100 this year – is coming to Stirling Theatre.

Directed by Tim Riessen, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is considered by literary scholars to be the most significant play in Australian theatre history.

It provided a turning point where distinctly Australian life and characters were openly and authentically portrayed, signalling the maturity of a nation prepared to question its stereotypes and attitudes.

The story follows two itinerant cane cutters, Barney and Roo, who have spent the past 16 summers in the off-season with two barmaids in Melbourne.

Every year, Roo has brought a tinsel doll to his girl Olive, as a gift to symbolise their relationship – but this 17th summer is somehow different.

“Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is an iconic Australian play that highlights the unravelling of lives,” Tim said.

“It’s about the end of an era for the characters.

“One of the challenges is bringing to life the type of lifestyle portrayed, so younger audiences can gain an understanding of it.

“For the era, the idea of unmarried folk would have been quite controversial – this is less so today, so getting this across will be important.”

Originally performing as a teenager, Tim has returned to the stage in recent years, appearing in Jesus Christ Superstar and an end-of-year pantomime with the Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company and The Phantom of the Opera, Pride and Prejudice, Anything Goes, Speaking in Tongues and The Darling Buds of May with Limelight Theatre.

He has also performed in You Can’t Have One at Stirling Theatre and directed David Williamson’s Let The Sunshine at Limelight Theatre in 2017.

“Summer of the Seventeenth Doll appealed because it embodies the emergence of the Aussie spirit,” Tim said.

“It speaks to me of my parents and grandparents.”

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll plays at 8pm November 26, 27, December 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 with 2pm matinees November 28 and December 5. Tickets are $22, $20 concession – book at

Stirling Theatre is on Morris Place, Innaloo.