by Mary W Maxwell, LLB
Martin Bryant will turn 50 in two months. I will turn 70 in a couple of weeks. Neither of those things calls for a celebration, though in the old days we might have gone the whole hog.
Bryant’s problem is that he’s never going to get out of there. Every birthday for him is “more of same.” As for moi not being in a celebratory mood, I just don’t see our collective situation improving – quite the opposite. We are on a downhill track.
That said, please come to the Adelaide Fringe on March 15 at 3pm. The venue is the Burnside Library Hall. No tix; it’s free.
The plan is to let Martin Bryant have the trial he was deprived of in November, 1996. Our play is set on December 1, 1996. Miraculously, a new lady lawyer, Anna Blue, has shown up to provide a defense in his case. Sure, it comes a few days too late, but we are calling it a “moot court” in order to make it feasible to run the thing at all.
Anna Blue is no member of the Bleeding Hearts Club. This story is not about the pummeling of Bryant. Anna Blue is also not a member of the Conspiracies R Us club. She could care less about SAC-PAV, or Rick, or even about Rebecca Peters’ devotion to “gun control.”
So then what is Anna Blue all about? She aced most of her courses at law school (just so you’ll know this is NOT an autobiographical play), and takes a businesslike attitude to her job as defense attorney. This play is all-business.
No music, by the way, and no jokes — until the penultimate scene where one member of the cast loses control.
You say you live in Melbourne? The all-night Firefly bus to Adelaide is pleasant enough. Costs $70. You live in Cairns? Got some Qantas Frequent Flyer points you’ve forgotten about for 10 years? Use them up before End Times.
In Three Acts
So here’s the plot, roughly. Martin Bryant comes out in front of the velvet curtain and tells the audience how pleased he is that he will at last get to say (mainly Anna will say it for him) what has been on his mind.
Then we have Act I with a few witnesses well known to the GumshoeNews crowd. Roger Larner, Jim Laycock – we’re practically cousins to those guys.
Act II asks the sensible question: Were there two parallel kidnappings? The one at the General Store that netted Glen Pears and involved the carjacking of a BMW. And the one at the Fortescue Turnoff that also involved a carjacking of a BMW and resulted in a whole night of hostage-ry at Seascape.
(Sorry if you are only a 21st century reader and think I am talking about Dun Meng or Monis or somebody like that. The plot writers have found that if it works well the first time it will work again just as effectively ad infinitum!)
In this Act II, the person telling the kidnap story is of course none other than the yellow-haired monster who has been allowed the social pleasure of a police interrogation. So, sneakily, sneakily, he gets to tell his story. He gets his “day in court” as it were.
Thank the Lord we don’t take the raw material of that police interview and turn it into nonsense as did the Channel 7 news writer a year ago. Lookie here:
“In tapes that have only ever played in court 20 years ago, Bryant is seen being wheeled into the interview room in a wheelchair — his legs burned from the fire he set after his 35 murders in Port Arthur, Tasmania.
Slouched in his chair, smiling and giggling, Bryant often denies knowledge of the dreadful events at the Broad Arrow Café and elsewhere around Port Arthur.
Bryant claimed he went surfing on April 28, 1996 and knew nothing of “the day everyone’s talking about”.
The fire he set? Hello? The fire brigade was on standby an hour before the fire started. Was there any reason – any reason at all – for the authorities to suspect he was about to burn himself to Kingdom Come?
[Bryant] could barely hide his excitement over the number of dead and injured.
Bryant: How many people died altogether then?
Police: Including the people at Seascape. Thirty five.
Bryant: How many other people injured? Many?
Bryant: How many … inaudible… a dozen?
Police: Approximately twenty.
Bryant: Approximately twenty. What, seriously or not?
I do realize that most viewers of the Mike Willesee show that night listened to the narrator and absorbed the dialogue by Martin as fitting those “suggestions” – setting fire, being excited over the number of deaths, etc.
Plea Deemed “Not Acceptable”
In Act III at Adelaide, Anna Blue has the unmitigated cheek to say that Martin’s guilty plea cannot be accepted. Cannot pass muster as it were. She names several reasons — I’d better not reveal all right now, as it could harm ticket sales!
(I am not in the show, by the way. Anna is a young chick)
You know Wendy Scurr is going to feature bigtime in the show. Maybe only littletime as far as minutes-on-the-stage is concerned, but bigtime emotionally. (Especially when Mr Bugg rejects Wendy’s witness statement as being not very “on point.”)
The last scene of the last Act is set at Seascape. Please don’t think we have sets and props. This is a Spartan show with a budget in the nickel and dime bracket.
But watch out. Things can happen. Maybe somebody important will show up in the audience. For example Tasmania’s governor Professor Kate Warner.
Her Excellency used to be professor of law at UTAS, specializing in “sentencing.” She might criticize Bryant’s 1035 year non-parole period, who knows?
That reminds me — Mal Hughes, Dee McLachlan, and myself sent a letter to Governor Warner, jointly, asking for clemency for Martin. That was back around May or June of 2016. Haven’t received a reply yet.
But look, Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?
— Mary W Maxwell will present a one-off Fringe show on March 15 at the Burnside Library Hall at 3pm. Name of show: “Moot Court Trial for Martin Bryant.”
Photo credit: topsy.one