The Trial of Fifteen
This was performed in the old court house in the Kingston area. The name of this led us expect that there would be about 17 actors, but in actual fact the were 5 actors 3 of whom were very talented and acted 5 different roles each, with the aid of simple costume changes that took place in front of the audience. The Judge and a clerk of courts were constant characters. An array of costumes was spread across a bench at the front of the stage area. Three actors sat in the dock and as an accused was called to the witness box they put on one of the costumes and took their place in the witness box. The charges against them were read out and they were questioned by both the clerk of courts who doubled as a prosecutor, and the Judge. The accused were all characters from Norfolk Islands past including the Polynesian rats (rattus exulans) that were brought to the Island by the Tahitians as a food source. Other accused included a cruel Commandant, a prisoner who escaped from custody, Satan, Fletcher Christian (leader of the Bounty mutiny), and a rather dense woman whose position I cannot recall, and people of various other positions who played a part in Norfolk Island history. After we heard the evidence against each of the characters they had to return one by one to the witness box for sentencing. This required quick changes of character by each of the actors. I remember that the sentence for rattus exulans referred to the fact that they would be sentenced to live on an island where the trees bearing their favourite food would have rat guards on them. This is something that is clearly visible throughout the town. After the play we were invited to join the cast for a glass of sherry and a chat.
The performance was certainly well done and the actors were very adaptable.
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