ABOUT A BUNCH OF RATBAGS
 

A BUNCH OF RATBAGS
Music & Lyrics: Peter Pinne
Book and additional lyrics: Don Battye
Based on the novel 'A Bunch of Ratbags' by William Dick


It is 1950’s post-war Melbourne, and while those in the suburbs enjoy an idyllic existence, the working class inner city streets are ruled by the infamous Bodgie and Widgie gangs. Terry Cooke, a young man from Goodway, turns his back on a tough family life and becomes a rock n’ rolling Bodgie, taking over as leader of the ‘Goodway Mob’ and local hero. But the fights, the brushes with the law and the hedonistic lifestyle begin to take their toll, until one drunken night Terry confronts a terrifying side of his new life and must decide where he really belongs.

BODGIE: noun, 1.
something (or occasionally someone) fake, false, worthless. Frequently as adjective. 2. an Australian male youth, especially of the 1950s, distinguished by his conformity to certain fashions of dress and loutish behaviour.  Female of the species, widge.
 

Written by one of Australia’s most prolific musical duo, Peter Pinne and Don Battye, “A Bunch Of Ratbags” is a stirring and rollicking musical show, which has largely flown under the radar of the Australian music theatre industry for the last 20 years. With its themes of social belonging and acceptance, and the struggle of a generation of youth to find its place in society, the show is as relevant today as it was in 1966, when it first opened at the late lamented Emerald Hill Theatre, directed by Wal Cherry and Jon Ewing. Fears that the production would further corrupt the youth of the day prompted a raid on the theatre by the local constabulary. No charges were laid, as the worst language they could find in the script was ‘get stuffed’. Nevertheless, their ‘review’ - “ …a coarse play based on a coarse book and there was much bad language…” - probably helped the box office more than the excellent critiques from more established reviewers.