The Play’s the Thing



“The Play’s the Thing”
Australia, mid 1920’s

left_theplaysthething1A theatre company is visiting the tiny township of Woolaroo in the Australian outback. The company is led by J. BRANDON SOMERVILLE and includes various members of his family.

Sommervilles in a coach
The Sommervilles arrive in town.

The group discovers JESS stowing away in their coach. JESS explains that he wants to be an actor and hopes to go to Sydney in order to join an acting school. BRANDON offers him a position in his company, for a fee.

JACK, BRANDON’s son, fixes a fan belt on the charabanc. He explains to JESS that he would prefer to be an engineer than an actor.

Walter and Daisy
Hollywood Producer Walter J. Goldburn is impressed by Jess’ performance

Hollywood movie producer WALTER J. GOLDBURN is passing through the area with his secetary, MAISY, on their way to Brisbane. GOLDBURN persuades MAISY to go to the theatre company’s performance of Romeo and Juliet.

GOLDBURN is impressed by JESS’s performance. He arranges to meet JESS the next day and offers him a contract to appear as a leading role in his next movie. JESS signs the contract. He will be expected to leave for Hollywood before the month is out.

Jess and Hannah
Jess and Hannah

Meanwhile, BRANDON is offered a benefit night at the Theatre Royal in Brisbane. BRANDON is thrilled that his talents are being recognised at last. The benefit concert is to be staged on the same night that JESS is expected to leave.

JACK overhears JESS talking to BRANDON’s daughter, HANNAH about his dilemma. JESS wants desperately to go to Hollywood but feels guilty about leaving BRANDON in the lurch. JACK tells BRANDON of JESS’s Hollywood offer, and expects a favour from BRANDON in return.

BRANDON arranges to meet JESS at the hospital and insinuates that he is dying of a heart related illness. JESS decides to stay for the concert out of sympathy for BRANDON. He tells GOLDBURN of his decision to stay.

Jess over Brandon
Brandon collapses in front of the audience

During the benefit concert, BRANDON collapses and talks to the audience of this being his last performance. He milks the lengthy applause of the audience. BRANDON comes off stage, beaming and transformed. JESS realises he has been faking this so called malady to both the audience and himself.

JESS feels used and is angry with BRANDON as the Theatre company gets ready to move off in the charabanc. JACK gets his favour repaid by BRANDON in the form of a envelope of money. JACK plans to use it in becoming an engineer and farewells his family.

GOLDBURN and MAISY are waiting in their car. GOLDBURN says the offer is still valid and JESS enters the car with HANNAH. His dream of Hollywood stardom remains intact.