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Ginger Mick at Gallipoli: Review

Australian Classical Theatre - a scene from Ginger Mick at Gallipoli

Helen Thomson, The Age

This adaptdation of C.J. Dennis’s work succeeds as a lively period piece.

Petty Traffickers and director Stewart Morritt have had great success with their production of C.J. Dennis’s The Sentimental Bloke. The later verse’s tales of Ginger Mick, first published in 1916, put the original Bloke’s characteristic irreverent wit at the service of a strident nationalism that was in play during World War I.

Mick, the rabbiter and petty crim, was sent to war and there became a hero, discovering in the trenches the real measure of mateship in its capacity for risking lives to save a mate. The small ‘Edition for the Trenches’ of Mick were treasured, much-read possessions of the Australian troops in World War 1.

Morritt’s cast is impeccably appropriate here. Bruce Kerr, Craig Annis, Joe Clements and Brendan O’Connor give a hugely energetic, suitably comical rendition of Dennis’ verse.

Kerr acts as narrator, and the verse is broken up by dramatic interpolations from the characters. They also frequently break into songs such as It’s A Long Way to Tipperary, Wish Me Luck and Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major, that in themselves tell much of the story of lonely men sent to alien places to fight a war they barely understood.

If anything, the energy and adrenaline levels are too high, exhilarating though they are at times… Jonathan Taylor’s choreography is remarkable, however, achieving miracles of suggestive physical narrative in a very small space.

The production gives the originally iconoclastic version of rough-hewn masculinity a physical dimension that has a powerful impact… Ginger Mick certainly succeeds as a lively period piece.