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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Big Toys

Patrick White

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To purchase Big Toys

Title: Big Toys
Author: Patrick White
Genre: Drama
Written: 1977
Length: 58 pages
Availability: Big Toys - US
Big Toys - UK
  • With a Preface by Katherine Brisbane
  • First performed 27 July 1977, at the Parade Theatre, Sydney, in a production directed by Jim Sharman

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Our Assessment:

B : fine piece about class and restrained conflict

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Big Toys is set in Sydney in 1976. Ritchie Bosanquet is a successful lawyer, Mag is his spoiled and bored wife. Mag decides to get involved in Labor Party politics -- which leads her to activist Terry Legge, "busy Marxing the world".
       Mag finds some appeal to slumming with the lower classes, but she also enjoys the privilege that life as Ritchie's wife affords her -- as well as the baubles he can present her with: extravagant jewelry and the like. Reluctantly Terry allows himself to be seduced by Mag. As it turns out, Terry is also of interest to Ritchie, first in a case where Terry testifies, and later otherwise as well.
       Big Toys is about class and about compromises and about corruption (in all senses of the words). It is a complex triangle White has built, each of the relationships working on at least two levels, and none of the characters even close to being entirely satisfied with any of the others. They are drawn together even as they resist, knowing that only bad can come of it.
       The big toys -- the bribes -- have a huge influence. Whether a fancy necklace for Mag, or a more "humane bribe" -- or a fancy car -- it seems the world (or at least the people) can all be bought. "A big toy puts everything right ... keeps the children quiet", Mag says. Right for a moment, perhaps, or appearing to be right, but White doesn't sound convinced about the long-term prospects.

       A sharp, dark little play, of people whose moral compasses spin directionlessly out of control.

       Note also White's stage directions, such as for the character of Mag at the beginning of the play:

Mag is discovered lying on the bed, either in bra and very brief panties, or a dressing gown over these, according to how much the actress can effectively reveal.

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Patrick White: Other books by Patrick White under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Patrick White (1912-1990), Australian author. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. Schooled in England (at Cheltenham, and King's College, Cambridge). His first novel Happy Valley was published in 1939. Worked for R.A.F Intelligence during WWII, after which he returned to Australia.

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