Written in a slightly absurdist style, Judgment Day plays heavily with the theatre's fourth wall convention. It is essentially a play about a theatre company having no play to present to the audience, and begins as audience members are still being seated.
The Stage Manager: You could find nothing suitable then?
The Director: I could not! Nothing at all! Why dramatists will not supply us with plays which are short and at the same time unusual is beyond my comprehension.
Having observed the Stage Manager adjusting a camera on a tripod outside the leading lady's dressing room, the Director hits on the idea of staging a play in which the audience co-operates, suggesting that this would 'greatly stimulate their interest.' After discussing the merits of audience co-operation and how one accesses when a play is a failure or not, the two men are joined on stage by the leading lady, and a little latter by two women and a young man from within the audience. An on-going theme within the play is the leading lady's attempt to work out a six-letter word from a cross-word puzzle denoting 'a basic impulse.'
Writing about the play from Corfu, Greece, in 1981, Kester Berwick recalls that the 1933 Ab-Intra production of Judgment Day credited authorship to a 'supposedly' contemporary Russian playwright called Sveltloff. Berwick's rationale for the pseudonym, he claims, was not an attempt to hoax the audience or the public in general but rather to get an unbiased opinion. His thinking was that 'personal friends would be disposed to be kind critics... Others, more objective, might find everything wrong with it.'
Interestingly Berwick recalls the positive opinions of two Adelaide academics towards his play. One, 'himself a Russian or from one of the Baltic states, and regarded as an authority on Russian literature, affirmed that there was little doubt about Judgment Day being by a modern Soviet playwright, although he could not place Svetloff' (p. 1).
In 1948 Berwick identified one of the academics as Kurt Munz, a Russian lecturing at the University of South Australia at the time (see Victoria Reynolds. "The Stockpot." Mail (Adelaide) 16 Oct. (1948), p.17).
First staged at Ab-Intra Studio, Adelaide, in December 1933 over five nights.