The Playmaker Author:Thomas Keneally The production in 1789 of a prisoners' performance of The Recruiting Officer provides the framework upon which the Australian author of Schindler's List and A Family Madness hangs this rollicking, thoughtful tale of his country's earliest days as England's furthermost prison. — Amongst the tents and rams... more »hackle huts of the first settlement on Sydney Cove, young Lt. Ralph Clark (a real Royal Marine who wrote a real journal) auditions such convicts as Ketch Freeman, highwayman, and Mary Brenham, thief, for the roles in the comic drama. As rehearsals proceed, layered life in the penal colony unfolds: provost marshall Harry Brewer is plagued by the ghost of a young Marine private recently hanged for fighting; Sydney's governor captures, and is captivated by, a handsome young native; prisoners and privates steal and deal; odd alliances are formed and sundered; and Ralph is increasingly drawn to the quietly self-possessed Mary Brenham. Ralph's resolution of his dilemma coincides with the play's staging in honor of the king's birthday; both are successful ventures. So is this lusty and affectionate tribute to Australia's raw beginnings.« less
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