The Ancient History Of Colin On The Wire...

You're lying in your shell scrape, the trees are thick around,
Colin's on the watch again, alert for every sound.
The scrape is never deep enough, the fresh earth close you smell,
You wonder as you dig down deep if you’ll end up in hell.
But hell is all around you, and heaven is long gone,
A girl you knew from other days who'd kiss you, on and on.
You wonder as you lie there, if the time will come to fire,
If you'll hear a voice beside you whisper "Trouble on the wire."
A twig is snapped behind, and a bird flies out in front,
And Donny mutters in his sleep, and you want to kill the c**t.
But you can't hear the screams of pain, see tracer trails tonight,
Won't feel the rain you're waiting for, there is no firefight,
The sounds of war have faded now, the Long Green is long gone,
Yet every night you're there again, you wonder what is wrong.
Thirty years afterwards, you wish the fear would leave,
But every time you go to bed, your safety net unweaves.

About the Play


Years after the Vietnam war some Australian veterans are still dealing with the effects of their experiences so long ago. Just after Gibbo's burial Colin receives a visit from Zac, (self-described 'poet larrikin' of the war) who has come to deliver a message just as Colin's son Alan is about to become engaged.

For those who have fought for it, life has a quality the sheltered can never know...
(Inscription on the Vietnam War Memorial, Muswellbrook, NSW.)


Colin, a Vietnam war veteran.
Mandy, Colin's wife.
Alan, Colin's son.
Alexandra, Alan's fiancee.
Zac, another Vietnam war veteran.
Gibbo, another Vietnam war veteran.
Lahn, a Vietnamese woman.


Ninety minutes (one interval).

Production History

Staged in Wollongong RSL Club (and encore season) and Bulli Woonona RSL Club in NSW, Australia in July 2004.

Cast: Ben Verdon, Sandra Druce, Stuart McCrae, Josipa Draisma, Blair Tumeth, Nicole Archer and Chris O'Neill.

Designed by David Thomas

Produced by Micheal Godbee.

Assistant Directors: Zoe Steen and Nguyen Dinh Thi.

Directed by Ian McGrath.


Set for "The Unsheltered," designed by David Thomas of Thomas Creative. Photo: David Thomas.

Set for "The Unsheltered," designed by David Thomas of Thomas Creative. Photo: Sarah Moss.

Sandra Druce, Chris O'Neill and Blair Tumeth. Photo: Sarah Moss.

Entire cast. Photo: Sarah Moss.

Nicole Archer and Ben Verdun

Blair Tumeth and Josipa Draisma. Photo: Sarah Moss.

Nicole Archer and Josipa Draisma. Photo: Sarah Moss.

Josipa Draisma and Stuart McCrae. (Chris O'Neill obscured.) Photo: Sarah Moss.