Published in Plays of the 70s Volume 1
A landmark play when it was first produced in 1970, The Legend of King O'Malley draws on vaudeville traditions to create a larrikin form from which the Australian New Wave theatre took its direction. The underlying story is based on a real life Texan idealist who became a member of two Australian parliaments and was defeated in 1917 for opposing conscription.
The play begins with a prairie revival meeting and takes a journey of adventure and hardship, culminating in a satirical view of federal parliament as a bunch of clowns. Beyond the irreverence, Australian myths can be glimpsed in the portrait of the lonely outsider and farseeing idealist in conflict with conservative pragmatists.