Lois Esson's Shipwreck: A Drama in Four Acts forms part of the Campbell Howard Collection of Australian Plays in Manuscript, a resource that provides a unique body of research material concerning Australian drama of the period 1920–55.
Play Length: Four Acts: Six Scenes
Synopsis: The play is set on the lonely Gippsland coast in the late 19th century. Stumpy Johnson lives by the old Cornish trick of luring ships to destruction and collecting and selling the flotsam and jetsam. Martha Kennedy forces her daughter Madge to become Johnson’s second wife. The police catch up with Johnson and he goes to gaol. During his absence his son by his first marriage and Madge fall in love and live together. A child is born. Johnson is released before his full sentence is served, returns and in his vengence kills the baby, shoots his son and chains Madge to the wall of the house. He whips the bullocks with a barb wire lash which flies back and tears his eyes, the bullocks stampede and rush over him and he staggers back to the house, but of course Madge cannot help him, and wouldn't. He dies and Madge is rescued by a passing coastal vessel which calls in, and Johnson’s corpse is taken on board to be tipped over the side when the vessel is at sea.
I.i Stumpy's bar-room. A stormy night in winter.
I.ii The same. Two months later.
II On a cliff. Three days later.
III A kitchen and living room. About a year later.
IV.i The same. Three days later.
IV.ii The same. Evening of the same day.
"STUMPY" JOHNSON, a shanty-keeper
TOM, his son, a cattleman
CARL, an old Finnish sailor
BEN, his young mate, a sailor
MADGE, her daughter
NUNE: Campbell Howard Collection. [Three different versions of this play are held in the Campbell Howard Collection]. ANL holds a collection of Louis Esson papers, MS 3185, and Esson playscripts in the British Drama League (Australia) manuscript collection, MS 5579.
Published in Australian Drama 1920-1955, Department of Continuing Education, University of New England, Armidale, 1986
Details for description taken from the Campbell Howard Annotated Index of Australian Plays 1920-1955, compiled and edited by Jack Bedson and Julian Croft.
Data time period: 1922 to 1955
109.33594,-10.66061 158.37891,-10.66061 158.37891,-44.46515 109.33594,-44.46515 109.33594,-10.66061
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