Rockingham resident takes on Australian stage classic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Hannah CrossSound Telegraph
Mark Dyer as hardened cane-cutter Roo Webber in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.
Camera IconMark Dyer as hardened cane-cutter Roo Webber in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Credit: Supplied

Rockingham resident Mark Dyer is set to wow theatre-goers at the end of this month when he takes on his first major acting gig in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

Dyer will become hardened cane-cutter Roo Webber, who spends every off-season with his friend Barney and two barmaids in Melbourne.

“Roo is the headman of some top-notch cane-cutters, whose sense of identity is grounded in his unchallenged, sun-hardened masculinity,” Dyer said.

“He softens just a little in the winter when he’s with Olive — it’s a simple life and an uncomplicated love that has managed to evade the realities of time and tradition.

“But when a much younger man publicly threatens Roo’s masculine prowess, complications of reality and commitment finally take hold of both Roo and his relationship with Olive.”

The play has been hailed as the most significant in Australian theatre history as it provides an authentic portrayal of Australian life in the 1950s.

Mr Dyer says one of the main challenges had been learning his character’s 269 lines.

“Roo is required to take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster of bravado, affection, rage, humiliation and disillusion that ultimately ends in despair,” he said.

The Ray Lawler play is being directed by Tim Riessen, who described the play as iconically Australian.

“It’s about the end of an era for the characters,” he said.

“But it also embodies the emergence of the Aussie spirit.”

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is showing on November 26-28, December 2-5, and December 9-11 at Stirling Theatre.

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