Hamp is a young soldier charged with deserting his post during World War I. The play explores the morality of the punishment, a subject recently brought to public attention by the pardoning of several World War I soldiers who suffered a similar fate.
Hamp’s gormless nature and inability to lie creates sympathy amongst his senior officers, particularly Lieutenant Hargreaves, who becomes his defence lawyer, and must try to coax him into giving a reasonable excuse that the members of the court will believe.
The crux of the argument comes down to whether Hamp was mentally fit at the time of his desertion, a point that is near impossible to prove one way or the other, especially as he does not have the vocabulary to explain his own state of mind. Can the members of the court afford to be lenient, when the decision may affect the morale of the other men?
Engaging and well acted by a group of very well spoken young men, the production perhaps suffers only from such young actors playing the parts of senior officers, which it would be unfair to hold against them.