Image from The Sentimental Bloke, by Australian Classical Theatre

“I loved this—a marvellous little theatrical confection. It is a scream, a terrific piece, really energetic theatre from a very versatile company…” — Geoffrey Milne, ABC Radio

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The Sentimental Bloke

This multi award winning show has enjoyed seven return seasons since 1999, and tells the story of Billo the Bloke and his little peach Doreen in a high energy, silent movie inspired theatrical frame work that has received critical acclaim and delighted audiences state wide.

Australian Classical Theatre presents The Sentimental Bloke

The Story

The Sentimental Bloke is a dynamic theatrical adaptation of a timeless Australian literary classic. Written in 1915 and regarded for half a century as Australia’s best loved book, this Aussie everyman tale follows the fortunes of Billo the Bloke in the back street gangs of Melbourne’s Little Lonsdale Street, swigging beer, playing two-up and “stoushin’ johns”.

Life changes when he meets his “little peach”, Doreen, and they get married, settle down on a berry farm and start a family. Along the way we are introduced to some unforgettable characters, including the local priest, Uncle Jim the farmer, Ginger Mick and of course the copiously weeping future Mother in law. At times hilarious and often moving, The Sentimental Bloke serves up slices of Billo’s life in stand alone poems bursting with the vitality of Dennis’ unique Australian slang.

Australian Classical Theatre presents The Sentimental Bloke

Production

This innovative, highly acclaimed production developed over 10 years stays true to the slang verse of Dennis’ original, but divides the narrative and shares the poetry around the cast in quite surprising fashion and with spectacular results.

Set in the framework of the old Vaudeville theatre, this multi award winning show incorporates silent comedy routines and music into its robust re-telling of this charming story. It has had six seasons since 2000, including performances at La Mama, Gasworks Arts Park, touring regional Victorian theatres twice and schools once in conjunction with Regional Arts Vic and their arts2GO education wing.

The Sentimental Bloke was included on the VCAA playlist for study in VCE Drama in 2002. Australian Classical Theatre was delighted to be asked to tour the Murrindindi Shire in October 2009 as part of the re-building process for the communities effected by the Black Saturday bushfires.

The Bloke played public Halls in Toolangi, Strath Creek and Buxton. In 2001 it received the Drama Victoria award for best production and a Victorian Green Room award for best actor.

Australian Classical Theatre - a scene from The Sentimental Bloke

Reviews

Frank Van Straten, on Jon Faine’s Conversation hour, ABC Radio 774

It was grouse, it was sheer magic… glorious Australian material that is worked so beautifully, hilarious and moving. It was just such a beautiful show.

The company takes the 14 poems and physicalizes them. There are elements of the old style Vaudeville, elements of silent movies and some wonderful, wonderful mime work and I’m not going to be ashamed to admit it I was holding back the tears at the end, the finish is so warm and wonderful.

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Helen Thomson, The Age

Sometimes a little theatre gem surfaces from the fringe, in this case The Sentimental Bloke. I attended a performance that put this show to the acid test, entertaining several groups of school children in their early teens at a midweek matinee… I was captured from the start as was the young audience…

Stewart Morritt makes a superb Bill, with just the right mixture of rueful acknowledgement of his faults along with a cheerful readiness to do better—and all for love…

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Sian Prior, The Sunday Age

This is a charming production, which captures your interest from the first moment and holds it until the inevitable happy ending… I approached this production warily, fearing a reverential take on an Australian literary cliché. Petty Traffikers, though, have breathed new life into the Sentimental Bloke.

John Gunn, Curtain Up, Radio 3CR

Every now and then a production comes along and captures the imagination, sweeps you along and sends you home tingling all over…

Bursting with energy and well thought out stage business, they bring this immortal story vividly and lovingly to life. To quote C.J Dennis: “Life’s what you make it”, and if you make it to The Sentimental Bloke, then you will feel all the better for it and in this day and age we need all the joy we can get.

A delightful theatre piece… don’t miss this one.

Andrea Ford, Southern Peninsula Mail

A highly professional stunning piece of theatre, full of warmth and good humour, larger than life and as expansive as the Australian landscape itself… one of the best productions I have seen. GREAT THEATRE!

Karen Meehan, ArtsHub

The fact that Stewart Morritt is British undoubtedly gives him a different perspective on Australian culture, but when his company, Petty Traffikers, issued a press release hailing poet C.J. Dennis as ‘Australia’s own Shakespeare’, the descriptor ‘balmy’ also crossed my mind. Isn’t that a bit like calling Ken Done ‘Australia’s own Picasso’?

But Morritt is in love: ‘I read (The Sentimental Bloke), and I thought: “Wow… I’ve been in this country for three years and nobody has ever mentioned C.J. Dennis… Three years and I’d suddenly discovered this gem, that nobody had ever talked about or recited, let alone performed. And it’s just beautiful. People think they know it, but they've never read it.”

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Australian Classical Theatre presents The Sentimental Bloke

Excerpts on YouTube