Summer of the Seventeenth Doll offers a slice of life in a working class Melbourne household. One of the reasons that the play was such a success was because Lawler, the playwright, was able to hold the interest of the audience throughout the play. He managed to develop tension in each act by placing characters in situations of conflict where their contrasting styles of communication created tension. The tension builds in each act of the play. The conflicts and tensions between Lawler's characters keep the audience's attention. This essay will discuss how the change in status quo, the way the characters deal with their new situations, the confusion before the climax of the play and the play's ending creates tension between the characters and the audience.
During the sixteen years previous to this summer, Roo and Barney, two cane-cutters from up north, came down to see Olive, Roo's girlfriend, and Nancy, Barney's girlfriend, every summer.
Olive lived with her mother, Emma, and looked forward to her "five months of heaven" when Roo and Barney came down every year. However, this year things are different. Nancy has left Barney to marry a bookkeeper and Olive has taken on a boarder, Pearl, who is a widow. As the men have grown older, Roo has been all but replaced on the cane fields by Johnnie Dowd, a younger man. Johnnie later becomes the romantic interest of Bubba, Olive's twenty-two year old next-door neighbour. The changes cause the status quo of the group to be disrupted, the first cause of tension.
As the situation has changed this year, the relationships are different from last and this causes tension between the characters. One example of the tense relationships in the play is the relationship between Olive and Pearl. Olive does not like Pearl's...