Summer of the Aliens

Summer of the Aliens
By Louis Nowra. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Director: Susan O’Toole Cridland. 4 February – 3 March, 2012

An unwieldy play structure diminishes the impact of this touching ‘memory’ play.

Set against the big events of 1962 (Cold War, Cuban Missiles crisis, Snowy Mountains Scheme, flying saucers and aliens) Nowra cobbles together his own angst as he moves from childhood to adulthood.

Originally written as a radio play,it had over 20 scenes and a large cast. That success inspired Nowra to adapt it for the stage. However, the retained radio play structure is cumbersome, episodic and difficult to pull off.


That said, the commitment of the players to their characters redeems this production:

Regan Lynch (young Lewis) combined gangly awkwardness with fear of his sexual feelings; Sarah Greenwood was a rebellious and precocious Dulcie, his best friend; James Dyke gave us a brash and hormone-driven Brian (Lewis’s best mate). Together, they focussed the plot.

Grant Morrison was convincing as adult Lewis, and narrator. As Lewis’s mother, Alison Telfer McDonald captured the period and her plight in a housing commission suburb on Melbourne’s outskirts. Elodie Boal (playing Lewis’s sister and a one-armed Dutch immigrant) showed great versatility. And Ben Dyson’s eccentric postman was a gem.    

Lindi Milbourne was more impressive as Dulcie’s mum than as Lewis’s grandmother (but her Scottish accent worked well).

Despite its episodic nature, the actors capture the essence of the piece, the universal agonies of adolescence.

Jay McKee


Images (from top): Sarah Greenwood (Dulcie) and Regan Lynch (Lewis), Lindi Milbourne (as Grandma), Elodie Boal (as Bev), Regan Lewis (Lewis) and Alison Telfer McDonald (Norma, Lewis's Mum) & Elodie Boal (as Bev), Alison Telfer McDonald (Lewis's Mum), Lindi Milbourne (as Grandma) and Regan Lynch (Lewis). Photogrpher: Robyn Edwards

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