Set in the home of Simon Martel at Hobart Town in 1830, the action of the play runs from early spring to Christmas eve. There are 18 characters.
Caroline and Jeanne Martel, the daughters of the harsh dictatorial Christian, Simon Martel, have returned to Hobart after six years in England. En route, Jeanne has fallen in love with Francis Gillan—a liberal reformer who is opposed to the convict system. The harsh treatment accorded to two good-type convicts causes Gillan to plan an escape from the island. Jeanne accompanies the party, but it is interrupted in flight and Gillan is shot. Rufus Bellamy the convict kills Mr Martel in revenge, but the passionate intensity of Jeanne's pleading persuades Caroline to agree to conceal the truth—for Francis's sake.
Abstract adapted from The Campbell Howard Annotated Index of Australian Plays 1920-1955.
DAYBREAK was first produced by Olive Wilton for the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society, at the Theatre Royal, on Saturday, 30 July, 1938, with the following cast:
SIMON MARTEL: James Pratt
CAROLINE MARTEL: Peggy Waterworth
JEANNE MARTEL: Junee Cornell
FRANCIS GILLAN: Henry Moore
MRS. CARMICHAEL: Pearl Burbury
PHOEBE MOON: Beatrice Jordan
RUFUS BELLAMY: Mervyn Wiss
CAPTAIN NORTH: K. W. Nicholson
CAPTAIN BLAINEY: Jack Mitchell
LIEUTENANT PRIDEAUX: Noel Richard
MRS. MOSS: Audrey St. Hill
LAURA MOSS: Erica Gilbert
MRS. TURNER: Dulce Haddon-Cave
SARAH TURNER: Nancy Chapman
LUCY TURNER: Phyl Bailey
ELLEN: Mrs. W. F. Hinman
BEAM: Don Sutherland
MRS. BEAM: Mrs. Alan Burn
Decor and costumes by Robert Montgomery
1938 : Theatre Royal, Hobart Repertory Theatre Society, 23 July.
1939 : Club Rooms of the Independent Theatre, Sydney, August.
1941 : National Theatre Movement of Australia, 26-29 April.
1941 : Sydney Players' Club, Radiotorium, 2-3 December.
1954 : Hobart Repertory Society, the Playhouse, 13-21 February.
Numerous other productions.