Boy Out Of The Country – By Felix Nobis

By Jane Canaway

Published on Australian Stage

It’s a while since I’ve heard an audience gasp in shock at a character’s actions onstage but the depths of sibling bastardry portrayed in Felix Nobis’s Boy Out of The Country certainly hit the spot.

Tightly written for the most part, with only a couple of flat spots, Nobis explores the multifaceted issues of family, belonging, acceptance and growth in this true-blue Aussie tale of two brothers.

Nobis opens by laying his cards on the table and presents a simple scenario that would be familiar to all Australians: Bad-boy Hunter returns to his small-town home after an unexplained seven-year absence to find his elderly mum moved into a nursing home, his rundown childhood home about to be bulldozed to make way for a new housing development, and his former flame married to his clean-living brother, Gordon.

Soon afterwards, Hunter finds himself in the town lockup being lectured by the local sergeant for brawling with Gordon.

Nobis gently develops the story like a watercolour painting, adding depth and colour in subtle layers that slowly reveal a more intricate picture in a wholly gratifying way.

It is sharp, canny and astute, but it is also very funny.

The script captures the vernacular and flows with casual abuse, but its language shines most brightly in the monologues performed by the local cop, played by Christopher Bunworth, and mum – Jane Clifton.

In the hands of these seasoned experts, not only do their characters take on a more poignant air, but the cadence and verse of Nobis’s words is also revealed.

More than once, a quotable quote hit me mid-monologue with its condensed insight and observation.

It’s a script that demands tight comic delivery balanced with laid-back country style and occasionally this was marred by a little stiffness, but quite possibly due to first-night nerves.

Credit is due to designer Rob Sowinski, whose minimal set captures the essence of country town without being overly cute or contrived.

Backing music provided by the wonderfully named Bang Mango Cools on a single guitar and recorded loop was also suitable laconic.

Interestingly, despite its relatively short run, the play is listed on the Shows for Schools website; one hopes teachers take heed of the understated ‘some coarse language’ warning before booking.


Larrikin Ensemble Theatre presents

Boy Out Of The Country

By Felix Nobis

Directed by Felix Nobis and Fleur Kilpatrick

Designer: Rob Sowinski

Original music: Bang Mango Cools

Producer: Wolf Heidecker

Amanda LaBonte & Martin Blum. Picture: Sarah Walker


Margaret – Jane Clifton

Gordon – Matt Dyktynski

Rachael – Amanda LaBonte

Sgt Walker – Christopher Bunworth

Hunter – Martin Blum


Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Dates: Until December 8, 2013

Tickets: $30-$38



To the Manor drawn

by Jane Canaway

Published in The Senior Traveller,

April 2014

As soon as the boys discovered the apple loft they knew it had to be their room: they were already embarked on a game of pirates before the adults had finished carrying a week’s worth of groceries into the enormous, flag-stoned kitchen (with even larger scullery).

That left young Aurelie with the stunning bay-windowed room – and a four-poster bed – all to herself. For a six-year-old with an overactive imagination, it was a week of bliss as we played at being Lord of The Manor.

The home in Bude, Cornwall, sleeps 13.

For many Australians, a visit to Europe involves catching up with family. If you have a large, spread-out mob and limited time, then renting a large house to share is a good option.

Britain has a generous supply of such homes for rent, many in splendid locations where you will never be short of things to do, places to go and things to see.

If you want something truly secluded, there are whole islands you can rent, including a fort built during the Napoeonic wars to defend Portsmouth. That costs more than $50,000 a week, but it does offer a unique base for sailors visiting for Cowes Week.

Alternatively, for the cost of a fairly average 2-3 bedroom beach house in Australia, 12 of you can enjoy a week in a mediaeval tower near Kilkenny, Ireland.

There are plenty of options elsewhere, too: Swedish Lapland, Madeira, Poland, Hungary, Czech republic, Turkey, Morocco, Cyprus, Phuket, South Africa, British Virgin Islands, USA, Vanuatu – as well as yurt holidays, ski chalets, eco-friendly homes and tree houses.

Spitbank Fort, off Portsmouth, offers fine views of Cowes week. www.thebeautifulhouse

Where to start

Location and size will narrow your search quite quickly, and budget will kick in soon afterwards. After that it’s just fine-tuning and availability.

Holiday Lettings ( is part of the TripAdvisor network so feedback is available from previous guests. Within the UK, some areas naturally attract premium rates; even the cheapest rate for one of the Cotswold homes listed was more than the peak-season rate for a similar property close to three stunning National Parks in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Beautiful House Co. specializes in luxury rentals and includes on its books the stunning Aldourie Castle beside Loch Ness. With its award-winning renovation, it offers top-end elegance with all the trimmings: 15 individually styled bedrooms (nine with en suites) and use of the 500-acre estate from about $45,000 a week. Four more cottages, catering, activities and full house staff are optional extras.

Aldourie Castle at night

For more affordable grandeur, Plas Glansevin, a Georgian Grade 2 listed building on 10 acres in Wales can accommodate up to 62 guests. It includes wood-fired sauna, outdoor plunge pool, and has wheelchair access. Weekly rates range from $5800 to $8650.

One of the largest properties on the books at Big Holiday House is Park Hall, a Grade 2 listed Queen Anne home on a 132 acres that can sleep 45 in the main house plus 90 in annexes and cottages. For those planning a large wedding, it has a dining capacity of 160.

By the time you’ve searched through a few websites, you’ll be thinking a mediaeval tower is fairly commonplace.


From luxury to activity

Apart from the size, style and price variation of the many homes on offer – everything from grand Scottish Castles, through converted barns to modern luxury homes – you can also create a short-list of accommodation by searching for features or activities.

Think Hay on Wye for literary types, the Isle of Skye for sea kayaking, Yorkshire and other moors for walking, biking and white-water rafting, Aintree for the Grand National, Newquay for surfing, Lyme Regis for fossil hunting and South Wales for cliff jumping.

Some of the grander homes offer huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ among their country pursuits. BYO green wellies.

For less energetic types, extras include spa treatments, full catering, a dedicated chef, chauffeur or a maid. At least one eco-farm provides its own organic produce and vegetarian catering.

The YHA also owns a series of large houses, most fitted with commercial-sized kitchen and many offering access to outdoor activities.

Consall castle offers disabled facilities

Holiday Castle Rentals includes the 13th century, moated Consall Castle in its list of properties with disabled facilities, while on a number of ‘quirky’ lists is the Elizabethan Stonnwall Manor in Somerset, which boasts a themed underground bomb shelter (presumably added post-1604).

However, there are some limits, too.

?             Only some accept pets

?             Many are booked out nine months ahead

?             School holidays can mean double rates

?             Some refuse bookings for stag and hen parties

?             Not all websites provide details of disabled facilities

?             Shops are sometimes half an hour or more away

?             Nearly ALL will ask for a good housekeeping deposit to cover any breakages or damage; the bigger the home and list of antiques, the bigger the deposit.

With so many interesting places to stay, it’s worth making up with long-lost family (or friends) to make the most of our good exchange rate and try some.

By the time you've searched through a few websites, you'll feel like a mediaeval tower is commonplace.

Other websites include: