Billy Budd

This play is from the book of the same name by Herman Meville, about life and death on a British warship during the Napoleonic Wars. It describes the tragic repercussions of the meeting of pure good, in the form of Billy, and pure evil, in the form of Master-at-Arms Claggart.Billy has just joined the warship’s crew after being press-ganged. Previously he’d been a merchant seaman and had spent ten years, half his life at sea. He is a very handsome young man and is liked by almost all of his new mates, apart from one who resents him. However, after Billy defeats him in a fight, he makes his peace with Billy. Billy is completely innocent and trusting and thinks the best of everyone.The exact opposite of Billy is Master-at-Arms Claggart, a cruel, vindictive man who likes nothing better than hurting people or even causing their death. He hates Billy and plots to have him ruined. Because of Billy’s goodness and likeability, he has great trouble in finding any way of getting at him but eventually concocts a plan to tell the Captain that Billy has been plotting mutiny. The Captain confronts Billy who is astonished and lost for words but then lashes out and hits Claggart, killing him. The penalty for this is death but the Captain and his officers realise that the claims against Billy were false and he is morally innocent. Which is more important to them, military discipline or the life of a truly good man?The production is extremely good and the audience’s attention is held from beginning to end. There is minimal scenery but somehow the effect is generated of being on an 18th Century British warship, with its brutal discipline, fear and claustrophobia. The acting is superb throughout and the characters completely believable. Very much worth seeing.

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The Blurb

Billy Budd, the handsome sailor, is purely good but the victim of pure evil. Herman Melville's tale of life aboard a British warship tells of vicious treachery and merciless discipline. A tale of devastating power and pathos.

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