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Acclaimed by the
Sydney Morning Herald at its premiere in 1868 as 'the most successful colonial play produced on the Sydney boards', Walter Cooper's second play was notable for local colour and for integrating familiar colonial types into a comedy of Australian manners.
The miserly Matthew Grudge is attempting to swindle his nephew and marry his heiress niece to his jackeroo son. His plans are complicated by the wily Captain Versatile Fluent, an Irish fortune hunter, and eventually foiled by his clerk, the faithful Peter Shrivel. A sub-plot involves the merry baiting of a pair of new chums in search of 'colonial experience'. The play has been revived several times since it was published in 1979.
Edited by Eric Irvin.
Cast : 9M, 2F
Currency Press | 978-0-86819-024-2 | Sales rights: worldwide | PB
WALTER COOPER was an actor, a journalist, a barrister, a parliamentarian and a one-time bankrupt. This colourful and successful author of comedies, farces and sensation drama was the first Australian playwright to have his work produced overseas.
Colonial Experience, one of only two plays which survive, is a comedy of early Australian manners.
When Cooper wrote this play in 1868 he was parliamentary reporter on the
Sydney Morning Herald.
Eric Irvin was on the editorial staff of the same paper from 1962 to 1973. He has written extensively on colonial theatre in Australia including the books
Theatre Comes to Australia, A Dictionary of Australian Theatre and
Gentleman George, King Of Melodrama : The Theatrical Life And Times Of George Darrell.