From the canefields to the city, this summer everything changes

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is an iconic Australian story of passion, bittersweet romance and the yearning for lost youth.

Plays and playwrights go in and out of fashion, but some endure and speak to each subsequent generation. Lawler’s much-loved tale of Queensland cane cutters and Melbourne barmaids has endured, not through nostalgia, nor because it spawned a new age in Australian writing, but because the characters and their dilemmas are so true, so beautifully observed, so humorous and so poignant.

A triumph at its 1955 Melbourne premiere, followed by a national tour and hugely successful season in London’s West End where it won an award for best new play, this new production of the Australian classic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll will be directed by the award-winning Denny Lawrence.

For 16 years two Queensland cane cutters have worked the punishing routine up north in the sugar cane fields for seven months of the year and travelled back to Melbourne to meet up for five months of partying and romance with their barmaid girlfriends.

This seventeenth summer everything is different. One of the barmaids has ‘settled down’ and married a city bloke so a replacement date has had to be found. This ‘off-season’ proves challenging for them all.

Director Denny Lawrence whose history with HIT includes many successful productions including Shirley Valentine, Always…Patsy Cline, Educating Rita, Glorious! Hotel Sorrento and most recently, My Brilliant Divorce, will be supported by a highly experienced creative team.

Riverlinks Venues Manager Ken Cameron said Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is one of those iconic Australian stories that has stood the test of time. “The realness of this story and its characters is as relevant today as its original setting in 1953 Melbourne. It is the enduring story of challenges faced by a group of friends and lovers, triggered by one change that turns everything upside down.”

“What was once familiar and comforting has changed. Relationships, friendships and fun are not the same as they used to be.”

“What happens to the seventeenth doll this summer? To find out come along experience the authenticity of the characters and Australian lifestyles in the 1950s,” said Mr Cameron.  

Tickets are available in person, online or through the Riverlinks Box Office on 03 5832 9511. For the full selection of shows on offer, visit

Riverlinks would like to remind members of the public always to buy tickets from the venue itself and not from unauthorised ticket sellers or scalpers as such tickets may not be valid.