Breaker Morant

17 Apr

Breaker Morant is a very rich myth. Gareth Boylan’s production of Kenneth G Ross’ play tells it simply and effectively. 

Breaker Morant is a myth about authority. During the Boer War, Harry Morant and Peter Handcock were charged with shooting prisoners of war. A surface reading is that Morant and Handcock were let down by those in power. This is a seductive reading. It makes life easier for anyone who chooses to see themselves as small.

Another reading is that we expect authority to absolve us of personal responsibility.  Morant and Handcock were real people and judgements on their decisions are way beyond my brief. But the play gets dreadfully close to offering the Nuremburg defence – “I was told to do it”. It’s a testament to the strength of this play and production that we can like the characters. Boylan has elicited strong performances from the entire cast, bringing to the fore the question that charges this piece: are the defendants heroes?  

Breaker Morant is a courtroom drama based on real events. I would argue all theatre is – but it’s the audience’s values that are in the dock.

Veronica Kaye

Breaker Morant

Seymour Centre til 21 April

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