Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is set in the 1950s, which was a crucial period in the development of the Australian identity. It was a time of post-war reconstruction and immigration, of materialism, a wool boom, of suburban comfort and conservatism- the first decade since early in the century in which the ordinary Australian had not been hounded by war, depression and drought.
The refinements of life then began to surface, it is in this decade that Ray Lawler, Joan Sutherland and many more turned up.
A self-assertion was in the air, uncertainly expressed in a yearning to mix on terms of equality with those older civilizations thousands of servicemen had glimpsed during the war and from which a daily-increasing number of "new Australians" had come.
It was a worthy desire for self-improvement; but the methods first employed to achieve it were more like off-the-peg shopping expeditions than long-term investment in the natural resources.
This desire for self-improvement is expressed in Summer of the Seventeenth doll through Roo and Dowd. Roo being the older bloke with hopes of self-improvement, but Dowd being "new" on the job, younger and more capable.
This has an effect on Roo as it would on any Australian man back in the 1950s, where all the men are out struggling to get along with a hard laboring job. It was a tough time, and man's worst nightmare was failure, or the shame of growing old and becoming incapable of fulfilling previous duties/activities.
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a play about the deprivation of feeling and understanding deriving from the long, unbeaten struggle for survival in the sun; and how their long felt admiration for youthful prowess has left them unequipped to fulfill their age, or...