Although told through the eyes and words of Jack Lilburn, Hang on a Minute Mate is very much the story of Sam Cash.

Sam's the kind of likeable rogue nostalgia would have us believe roamed the countryside in their hoards in the good old days.

They could turn their hand to anything - chiefly spinning a yarn - using their wit, charm and street smarts to make a buck here, score a meal there and help out mates everywhere before disappearing into the night when the urge to move on grew too great.

Director Michelle Cliff couldn't have found a better Sam, the back block philosopher with an eye for an opening, than Glenn Ward whose double act with Jack Brawn, who is young Jack Lilburn, develops as the story is told.

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The rest of the 14-strong cast all play an essential part in what, were it on the silver screen, would be a road movie. But this is Sam's story, right from the moment he and Jack meet by chance in August 1959 when Sam hoodwinks Sergeant Sutton into not arresting Jack for stealing, threatening, not for the only time in the play, to call on the influential Harvey Wilson, who we never meet.

Jack sees the chance to learn from his new travelling companion while Sam sees an opportunity to pass on his accumulated worldly wisdom as the pair set off in search of the perfect job.

No character is wasted or superfluous to the story - and no act is without humour as Sam and Jack travel the country.

Wherever they go, Sam just can't help himself, even preferring to swindle his way to securing the bottom bunk in a logging camp cabin rather than accept Jack's offer of first pick.

Michelle and the back stage crew have succeeded in evoking the mood of the era and the cast, some new and some old hands, add a huge amount of flesh to those bones.

Narrator Old Jack is the glue that holds everything together and fills in any gaps, eventually and wistfully brings the story to a close.

Everyone plays their part - even Harvey Wilson.

Hang on a Minute Mate was written by Anthony McCarten, drawing heavily on the stories of Barry Crump. The season opens at Litt Park Theatre on September 17 and runs until September 28 with matinee performances on September 21 and 28.

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Tickets are available at Giftrapt or eventpronto.co.nz
STUART WHITAKER