Ray Lawler's, "Summer of the 17th doll" captures the aura of a rapidly changing 1950's, focusing on the failures of a dilapidated Melbourne household, whilst also illustrating the changing characters of the Australian nation. Built around the traditions of a "lay off" period Lawler's famous play, in its language, costume and setting is exotically Australian and explores the failures of Australia's characters to grow up and recognize there is future, beyond high times and "livin"" Lawler's play, directed by Rod Kinnear, in 1977, although staying fairly true to the original script fails to capture the aura and importance of the "lay off", whilst also alters audience perceptions of Lawler's characters. True to the play, Sumner shatters the Olive's vision of the "lay off," however such a dramatic event fails in its intended effect upon the audience.
Lawler's stage directions are quick to establish the importance of the "lay off" even before a word is spoken. With "little pattern or taste" evident in the furniture, the souvenirs and kewpie dolls are the "main decorative features." These, by themselves represent the long-standing tradition between the characters, Olive, Roo and Barney. Similarly through the likes of Bubba, Lawler is quick to establish a feel of excitement throughout his play. Bubba, is a youthful figure who enjoys and anticipates the tradition of the lay off and thus in her manner she continues to create audience anticipation for the arrival of Roo and Barney and thus the beginning of the extensive tradition. Bubba's walking sticks, yet another symbol of the "lay off" do not "impress" Pearl, however the audience are still able to sense the excitement and aura such a tradition brings to the small Melbournian household. Although Lawler carefully constructs the aura of the lay off period, Kinnear is less meticulous in the creation of such a tradition. Lawler's direction of a small, clustered and tasteless room become lost with a large, spacious room, which appears with more splendor and elegance than first envisaged.