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A: Michael Gow Pf: 1986, Sydney Pb: 1985 G: Drama in 5 acts S: Australian town, hotel, campsites, 1967–8 C: 5m, 5f, extrasThree families are going on vacation over the Christmas (summer) break: headmaster Roy, who has just directed his pupils in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and his wife Coral, who suffers acute depression after they lost their son in Vietnam; Jim and his snobbish philistine wife Gwen with their rebellious daughter Meg, who played Titania; and Harry and Vic, who came to Australia eight years ago with their son Tom, who performed Puck and is in love with Meg. Roy and Coral have a tense holiday at a luxury Gold Coast Hotel in Queensland, and Coral becomes dangerously attracted to a young man on his honeymoon; Jim, Gwen, and Meg have a dismal Christmas on a campsite in their new caravan; Harry, Vic, and Tom have a good time camping with an old tent. When a storm destroys Jim and Gwen's caravan, by chance they meet Harry and Vic on their idyllic campsite. Coral has left Roy and found her way to the same spot. Harry reveals that his son Tom has cancer, and Tom tells Meg that he wants ‘to do it once, just once’, but she refuses. That evening at the campsite, there is a concert, at which Tom and Coral enact a version of The Flying Dutchman, with the hint that Tom has restored Coral to life. Roy appears, and he and Coral are reconciled in a silent scene. Back at school, Tom reads from King Lear how he will ‘Unburden'd crawl toward death’.

A: Michael Gow Pf: 1986, Sydney Pb: 1985 G: Drama in 5 acts S: Australian town, hotel, campsites, 1967–8 C: 5m, 5f, extras

In this well-observed and poignant portrayal of a more innocent age, Gow explores domestic relationships in an unspectacular but convincing way. Although the piece's naturalism seems better suited to television, the improbable coming together of the three couples in an idyllic location lifts the action almost on to the level of a dream.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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