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It’s Australia Day 1988, the Australian Bicentenary, and one family is celebrating a very special event. It’s Lily and Jack’s 75th wedding anniversary and the whole family is gathering in Bert and Judith’s backyard. But like most families, there are plenty of tensions, old gripes and new surprises to face…
Judith is exasperated with Bert, who’s still trying to get the garden ready for the big day. She's also dreading the arrival of Winifred, her mother-in-law, who not only takes over her kitchen, but the whole event. Uncle Peter arrives, as always, several hours early. Justin’s car breaks down with the guests of honour on board. Carol’s marriage is on the rocks and her husband refuses to come. David’s ex-wife and her new boyfriend are coming, and his defacto, Susan, has a little surprise for everyone. Uncle Jim’s at the station with a guest that no-one expected, and the youngest member of the family, Little Lil, has decided she hates her name.
In the end, it’s Ray, the interloper from next door, who seems to be having the best time of it… while Bert and his father Bob, Winifred’s long-suffering husband, keep disappearing into the garden shed. Just what does Bert have hidden in there?
Thicker than Water was commissioned by St Martins Youth Arts Centre in 1988 as an Australian Bicentenary project. In 2001 it was rewritten as a 'period piece' for young performers. Since then it has been performed by students at St Leo's College, Overnewton College, Carey Grammar, Chandler Secondary College, St Kevins College, Ballarat Secondary College and the Australian Ballet School (theatre studies class).