Therry Dramatic Society
The Arts Theatre
Until 26 Mar 2011

Review by Jamie Wright

Australian bush poet and larrikin, Lieutenant Harry 'Breaker' Morant and his compatriots, George Wittonand Peter Hanock are facing three courts-martial for offences relating to the ongoing Boer War. Politicalpressure on the English by the European nations, combined with the English dislike of the 'colonials',however, means there is far more to this trial than meets the eye.

Director Ian Rigney, working from Kenneth Ross's script, ensures this is no plodding courtroom drama;an excellent pace is maintained throughout, and the strong humorous elements are emphasised tobalance out the drama.

Matthew Randell is great as the strong-minded Morant, and is completely believable as the complex,poetry-reciting horseman. Paul Rodda is similarly good as Major Thomas, as is Stephen Bills as MajorBolton.

An acid-tongued Russell Starke is excellent as the odious Lieutenant Colonel Denny – though he isoutdone for vileness by Drummond Jewitt as Lord Kitchener and Jack Robins as Colonel Hamilton; bothGordon Poole and Richard Lane also do well in their cameo appearances.

Casting a show with this many males roles in Adelaide theatre can be difficult, and some of the otherperformances were not as strong. It can also result in actors playing characters much younger or olderthan their actual age, which can be a problem; for example, the point at which the young LieutenantHancock offers to 'step outside' with a Sergeant Major Drummitt many years his senior to settle theirdifferences seems at odds with his character.

Some of the performers cope better with the demands of carrying themselves as military men betterthan others; there are several occasions where the characters' marching, saluting and standing atattention looks awkward and unintentionally hilarious.

Don Oswald's set utilises clever folding pieces to allow quick shifts between scenes, and works well withDenise Lovick's lighting – though the downlighting in the first few scenes suffered from opening nightnerves. Costumes are generally good, given how difficult military uniforms would be to obtain.

A well-presented, entertaining production of an important part of Australian history and, given that welive in a society where show trials and miscarriages of justice for political reasons still take place, it's alsoa pertinent reminder of the importance of fighting for true justice.