Ballarat National Theatre

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Performance Dates



Fania Jane Gaylor
Simkeh Hadley Thomson
Jack Sam Bye
Mordecai Paul Rose
Giza Ruth Grey
Lenny Aidan Brady
Suzy Sarah Falkinder
Hannah Sam Sonter
Christine Sarah Page


Directed & Designed by Peter Nethercote
Written By Ron Elisha
Stage Manager Sally Read
Deputy Stage Manager Savannah Clark
Sound Michael Zala
Lighting Liam Drennan
Production Manager Julian Oldfield
Photography Gary Hunt
Frount of House Yvonne Downing and BNT members
Pre Production Robyn Ashmore, Sam Bye, Wendy Hall, Geoff Hedt, John Krul, Brian McClelland, Tony McGuinness, Peter Nethercote, Julian Oldfield, Hedley Thomson, Graham Walker, Michael Zala and Peter Zala


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Review by Gail Sjogren

Ballarat National Theatre’s current production is a thought-provoking and at times challenging look at some of the tensions which can beset family life. In Duty Bound is the first play written by prolific Melbourne playwright Ron Elisha and was first performed in 1979 by the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Set in the years following the Second World War, the play focuses on the upset caused when the younger son of a Jewish family falls in love with a girl who is not Jewish. His dismayed parents, who have survived the horrors of the Holocaust, fear that they will lose their son if he ‘marries out’ while their son, who has known only the comforts and security of life in post-war Australia, is torn between his ‘duty’ to his parents and his desire to marry the woman he loves. Though hopefully today our society is much more tolerant of marriages between people of different faiths, the play is a reminder of how strongly such unions have been opposed in the past. However there are many lighter moments and plenty of chuckles to relieve the emotional impact of such a serious theme.

The play is set in the family dining-room, stressing how meals are a crucial time for family interaction. But what impresses most is the standard of the acting especially by Jane Gaylor as the mother, Hedley Thomson as the father and Sam Bye as the son. We are at times irritated by the parents’ attitudes but also led to sympathise with their fears and to understand the son’s anguish. They are strongly supported by Paul Rose and Ruth Grey as the brother and sister-in-law whose bickering gives many of the laughs, with Aidan Brady, Sarah Falkinder and Sam Sonter, and a moving cameo role from Sarah Page as the gentile woman. The difference between the life experiences of the generations is made apparent by the faultless European accents of the older generation and the totally Australian accents of the younger ones.

The set, designed by director Peter Nethercote, recreates the feeling of the time perfectly. As is always the case in Peter’s productions there is meticulous attention to detail and while some knowledge of Jewish customs will be helpful, there is a glossary of terms in the program for those who may not be aware of words such as ‘shickseh’ for a gentile female or ‘schul’ for synagogue.

In Duty Bound will leave you pondering the many ways in which families function, and perhaps with a better understanding of attitudes which may not have been encountered before.