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About Dust & Ruin

29th Sept to 6th Oct 2007

  • Genre: Drama

  • Playwright: W.Somerset Maugham

  • Directed and Designed: Peter Nethercote


Liesl Vanderkley

Plays Penelope O'Farrell

Reg Mowat

Plays Dr Dickie O'Farrell

Ross Barnes

Plays Prof Charles Golightly

Wendy Holgate

Plays Isabel Golightly

Hedley Thomson

Plays Davenport Barlow

Miranda Donald

Plays Ada Ferguson

Brian McClelland

Plays Mrs Watson

Margaret Jarvis

Lesley Hale

Plays Lesley Hale

Peter Nethercote



  • Stage Manager

    Lesley Hale

  • Crew

    Celeste Baldwin

  • Lighting Design

    Tegan Allen & Liam Mudge

  • Switchboard

    Shaye Davitt Sound Michael Zala

  • Hair Design

    Chris Angel

  • Graphic Design

    Peter Freund

  • Photography

    Gary Hunt



Penelope brings to the stage of the Courthouse Theatre the wit, cynicism and elegance which are the hallmarks of Somerset Maugham’s writing. This production is directed and designed by Peter Nethercote whose work is well known to Ballarat’s theatre lovers.

The sets and costumes are outstanding and evoke all the charm and elegance of Edwardian times, when ladies and gentlemen dressed and behaved, at least outwardly, with decorum and courtesy. But their behaviour behind closed doors was not always as innocent, a fact which Maugham delights in revealing. His cynical views on marriage and the relations of men and women give rise to much of the clever plot and the manipulations which he suggests are an integral part of the married state.

A very strong cast clearly enjoy their roles. Liesl Vanderkley is a delightful and vivacious Penelope who must plot to keep the affections of her wayward husband, strongly played by Reg Mowat. He is infatuated with her supposed friend Ada, a role which Miranda Donald clearly relishes as she flirts outrageously with every man in sight. As another of her conquests, Hedley Thomson is a wonderfully pompous and self-satisfied snob. Wendy Holgate and Ross Barnes are Penelope’s parents, offering advice which is as unexpected as it is successful. There is a very funny scene with Margaret Jarvis as a hypochondriacal patient, and good supporting performances by Brian McClelland and Lesley Hale.

This is indeed a comedy with bite. There are so many very funny and clever one-liners that the audience cannot afford to miss a word. And while times have certainly changed, perhaps in some areas human nature has not!