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The Small Poppies – April 2008

By David Holman

Directed by Bev Jackson-Hooper

The Small Poppies is an entertaining drama from Australian writer David Holman featuring adult actors in some twenty roles as the children, parents, and teachers facing the challenge of the first day at school in the mid-1980s Australia.

The story is mainly focused on the troubles of five-year-old Clint, initially eager to be off to school for the first time but then challenged not only by losing his best friend Courtney who moves house, but also, when he gets there, by the class bully, Shane. Meanwhile a Cambodian refugee, Lep comes to Australia following the death of her mother and faces not only the standard challenges of ‘big school’, but language, race, and cultural barriers which prevent her classmates and teacher from understanding her.

Primarily a series of engaging and amusing games, set-pieces, and gags, the play also addresses some serious and more adult themes such as true friendship, racial intolerance and bullying. While it has some very moving scenes it is also very funny. It is a beautifully crafted play, which will entertain audiences from 5 years to 90 years.

Although written in 1986, Holfman’s play is a universal story in which the themes and characters are largely timeless.
Garry Davies Clint / Johnnie and Ronnie Foley
Paige Marshall Lep / Chi
Michael Limb Theo / Mr Brennan
Donna-Maree Gavin Mrs Walsh / Noi
Danni Ashton Joker/ Maria/Theo’s mum
Gail Vandenbok Clint’s mum/ Joker/Thuan/ Cambodian interpreter
Arnold Wong Shane Miller / hostel worker
Peter Bloor Theo’s dad / Australian Embassy man