Cast 22 male
Licence UK & Ireland only
Billy Budd, an American sailor impressed by the British during a war between England and France, has been brought aboard H.M.S. Indomitable, and assigned to duty. A pleasant lad, innocent of guile or malice, he becomes popular with men and officers—all but Claggart, the hated Master-at-Arms. Claggart, the incarnation of evil, is unable to admit that there can exist a spirit as utterly good as that of Billy, and he does everything to destroy him. Suspecting Billy’s friendliness toward himself, and bent on involving him in a mutiny plot, he denounces Billy to Captain Vere. The Captain, who knows Claggart is lying, orders him to repeat his charges to Billy’s person. When Claggart does so, Billy is so amazed that he is speechless. The lad’s outraged feelings can only be expressed by action, and he strikes Claggart a blow that kills him. The Captain must then try Billy for striking an officer, for which the penalty is death, and the play moves inexorably to its shattering and deeply moving climax.