by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Australia 1789: A young lieutenant attempts to direct a cast of convicts
in 'The Recruiting Officer', the first play ever to be staged in the country.
But one of his cast may be about to be hanged.
The convicts' production of The Recruiting Officer can be heard
on Drama on 3 on Sunday evening..
Captain Arthur Philip ..... Nicholas Le Prevost
Major Robbie Ross ..... Stuart McQuarrie
Captain David Collins ..... Paul Moriarty
Captain Watkin Tench ..... Adam Billington
Captain Campbell ..... James Lailey
2nd Lieutenant Ralph Clark ..... Paul Higgins
Reverend Johnson ..... Simon Bubb
Midshipman Harry Brewer ..... Rikki Lawton
Mary Brenham ..... Francine Chamberlain
Robert Sideway ..... Adam James
John Wisehammer ..... Elliot Levey
Liz Morden ..... Kate Fleetwood
Dabby Bryant ..... Alex Tregear
John Arscott ...... Ralph Ineson
Ketch Freeman ..... Jonathan Forbes
Duckling Smith ..... Adjoa Andoh
Director ..... Sally Avens
Timberlake Wertenbaker's stage play was adapted from Thomas Keneally's novel, 'The Playmaker'.
It tells the true story of Lieutenant Ralph Clark's attempts to put on a production of George Farquhar's 'The Recruiting Officer' using a cast of convicts. It met with high praise when it was first staged at The Royal Court and the play argues eloquently for the redemptive power of theatre. Many of the arguments are still current today as we debate how best to rehabilitate prisoners. At the heart of the play is its language; Wertenbaker celebrates the beauty of language in the slang of the criminal classes and the poetry of the play but she also looks at how language is used as an instrument of power.
Over one weekend Radio 4 and Radio 3 present new productions of 'Our Country's Good' and 'The Recruiting Officer' using the same cast. On Saturday on Radio 4 we hear 'Our Country's Good' and watch a group of convicts' lives change as they rehearse 'The Recruiting Officer' and on Sunday on Radio 3 we hear the convicts' production of 'The Recruiting Officer'.