TWO locals are exploring themes of loyalty, honour and love in a quintessentially Australian play at the Old Mill Theatre next month.
Rockingham resident Joel Sammels and former Safety Bay Senior High School student Melissa Merchant are starring in No Names, No Pack Drill, a romantic drama based, in part, on an incident involving writer Bob Herbert’s sister and an American soldier at Kings Cross.
No Names, No Pack Drill is set in the Sydney summer of 1942 and looks at the effect of the so-called “Yankee invasion” during World War II.
The story focuses on Kathy, a young married woman who lives in Kings Cross, who wakes up the morning after a party to find a US Marine asleep on her couch.
He is absent-without-leave, looking for a way back to the US and what happens next changes the trajectory of both their lives.
Merchant stars as Kathy while Sammels plays Bernie, a character he says is a loveable rogue.
“He’s the sort of guy that lives for the now and just wants to have as much fun as he possibly can,” the Comet Bay College teacher and former Safety Bay High student said.
“In the play, he says ‘I’m having a wonderful war’ and it really sums him up. He’s in Australia, he wants to party and he’s certainly not going to let a silly little thing like the war get in his way.
“I’ve never performed with an American accent before so creating one that is believable will be a real challenge.”
Merchant descried Kathy as “a really interesting character”.
“She’s defiant of society’s expectations in some ways and yet she conforms in others,” she said.
“She marries because she thinks it’s what she should do yet is later drawn to a US Marine who camps out on her sofa and, as a result, makes life-changing choices not necessarily in her best interests.
“Kathy is very similar and, at the same time, very different to me; she is quite level-headed, like me, but then she makes choices I never would.”