Analysis of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

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Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, by Ray Lawler was a ‘bottling’ performance. A highly effective use of lighting, set design, props and additional sensory stimulus; were powerful tools in creating a realistic production. The skilful use of the elements of drama; human context; language, movement, mood and dramatic tension, enabled the audience to relate to the characters and plot. The development of sub-plots also added to the creation of a realistic performance, by mirroring the human condition. Through the effective use of these dramatic techniques; Neil Armfield was successful in creating a realistic portrayal of Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.
The 1950’s style setting created on stage, using the set design, props and
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Olive and Pearl had a somewhat odd friendship at the beginning of the play, Olive tried desperately to make her standard of life seem fit to the much more classy Pearl. However as their situations unfold, it is made clear that much of this ‘class’ in Pearl is surface level only. We learn her husband has left her and she has a problem daughter. After learning this Olive seems to warm much more easily to Pearl, possibly reflecting Olive’s insecurity around people of a higher class.
Neil Armfield was highly successful in implementing the elements of drama, especially those of movement, mood, language and tension. All characters within Summer of the Seventeenth Doll created realistic mood to portray their respective characters. As the summer progressed, the mood changed dramatically, from the bubbly highs of the first meeting, demonstrated mainly by Olive’s nervous excitement in the moments before the arrival of Roo and Barney; to the depressive goodbye demonstrated again by Olive when she clears the entire house. When juxtaposed to the mood of the previous sixteen summers, the audience was able to see from the beginning that this summer was going to be different; through strong use of mood it was clear that this would be the last of the summers. While movement was in the most part realistic, the actors did lapse in this area occasionally; this was most evident in the fight scene between Roo and Barney. However the most

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