Australian Play Is
The boring, demoralising life of an Australian army camp sweating in the backblocks of the Northern Territory would seem to be, of all the places that saw the furious human drama of the last war, the least likely to offer easy stage material for a drama-
Yet Sumner Locke-Elliott has made this lonely military grease- spot the setting for some of the most brilliant and honest stage writing we have yet had from an Australian.
His "Rusty Bugles," a string of sketches rather than a play (the author calls it "a documentary"), opened successfully at the Indepen- dent Theatre last night. The con- summate skill of the dialogue, al-
though heavily loaded with cuss-
words that will bring the pink to modest ears, and the affectionate observation of a batch of doggedly Australian Australians kept last nights audience royally entertained.
Doris Fitton's fine, fast produc- tion, and some exceptionally good acting from the all-male cast made the most of the comedy that ripples constantly on the surface of Locke Elliott's writing. And yet the
performance was not so heavily loaded for laughter as to disguise the essential ugliness and degrada- tion of the lives that these soldiers were forced to lead.
TRUE TO TYPE
Indeed, of all the Australian plays yet written this is the most thoroughly Australian in tone and character. Fond mothers may not care to see their soldier boys drawn as the author has drawn them - there are more innocuous obsceni- ties to the minute than in any other play we know of-but that was the way so many of them were.
Perhaps "Rusty Bugles" is too long to sustain interest fully, there is a limit to the number of ways
a monotonous life can be varied for the stage. The author has been ingenious enough to write to that limit—the talk of leave, the bad news from home, imagination of kisses and cuddling in the remote cities, the soldier whose mind cracks, the futile 'phone calls home on a bad line, the ingrati- ating organiser of unwanted fun and games
Outstanding in an excellent cast were Ralph Peterson, Lloyd Berrell, Alistair Roberts, Frank O'Donnell, Ivor Bromley-Smith, all of them with a vocabulary which, true to type, included copious references to illegitimacy, the bloodstream, the anatomy and advanced biology.