This is a rollicking play about one of the founding and/or foundling fathers of Western Australia… Thomas Peel, first cousin of the then British Prime Minister. He was the leader of the first organized group of settlers, but from the moment he arrived on western shores, he became, as it were, rooted to the spot, utterly unable to marshal himself to provide the leadership and employment to his hundreds of artisans, labourers and families. Indeed, for one whole paralyzing year, he couldn’t even move himself from the beach he landed on, even while the others were suffering from starvation, scurvy, dysentery and exposure.
Finally, his people had to desert him as quite mad, and this included his own wife and daughter who saddled him with his dreaded mother-in-law and his wife’s love child. Still, even these two weren’t terrifying enough to push him off his beach and towards the dark heart of the then Australian interior… that physical opponent in which lineage allows for no special treatment and all better take the zinc cream with them. In that desolation, there weren’t even cricket practise pitches awaiting you.
For thirty-six years, old Peel stood a lonely, haughty and solitary figure blinded to his failings. If that wasn’t enough, in old age, he was hauled before the magistrate for some decrepit and unspecified sexual misconduct against his haggard housekeeper. But, even regarding her, the rumour mill had as against his mother-in-law. Even today, his commemorative headstone has him buried on top of her in the same grave. Hopefully jokingly, or else this play should be a tragedy.