A Cheery Soul
From Australia's Nobel Prize winning author - a comedy about the tyranny of good intentions

New Theatre


A Cheery Soul

by Patrick White

in suburbia no-one can hear you scream...

Patrick White's classic comedy of manners is brought vividly to life in new theatre's final production of the century. Directed by Pete Nettell (Monkey's Mask, Only Heaven Knows) the play is a cavalcade of bold physical characters, outrageous situations and moral outrage.

Set in his favourite fictional suburb of Sarsaparilla at the end of the 50s, it is a satirical look at the mores of a so-called Christian society. "In A Cheery Soul, Patrick White holds up a mirror to society - and society doesn't like what it sees," says Nettell.

The play's central character is Miss Docker (Alice Livingstone) a do-gooder who believes that people need to be told when they are doing something wrong - whether it's cooking a roast or preaching a sermon. "God," says Nettell, "is her best friend. And Miss Docker believes that she is acting in her best friend's interests. In Miss Docker, White has created the ultimate Australian anti-heroine, a ferociously cheerful old woman who destroys everything she seeks to nurture."

Among those in the Miss Docker's whirlwind path are the childless middle-aged couple desperate to "do something worthwhile"; an ageing heiress and former beauty reduced to penury; and the rector who cannot find the words to inspire his flock. Patrick White wrote about the people he knew and lived with.

"White uses Miss Docker to confront our consumerist ideal of amassing material wealth: when you take away the possessions, the material comfort, what is there left to believe in?"

When word goes around Sarsparilla that Miss Docker is soon to be homeless, the Custances do the Christian thing and invite her to move into their spare room. When she throws their ordered and harmonious life into chaos, Miss Docker is soon packed off to the local Anglican retirement home. Here she meets up again with the once wealthy matron Mrs Lillie, and a long awaited confrontation becomes inevitable ...............

The new theatre's version of A Cheery Soul is designed by Wayne Harris, with lighting design by Martin Kinnane and costumes designed by Sylvia Jagtman, Tracey Gardner, Phillippa Welfare and Ashley Trotter. With Alice Livingstone, Lisa Penny, Mark Butler, Ian McGregor, Leigh Rowney, Bobbie Gledhill, Gabrielle Rogers, Nick Pelomis, Sandra Campbell, Jennie Dibley, Maxine Makaroff, Deborah Kaineder, Kathryn Hibbert, Jan Langford-Penny and Eva Davis.

Director and cast are available for interview. Contact Christopher Wynton or Merran Doyle at More Publicity for further details.Telephone: [+61] 02 9908 4644 or 0419 999 607 Email: more@cyber.net.au


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Content © More Publicity. Last Update 3 November 1999.