Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play is one of the best, if not the best, defence of theatre that there is.

Based on Thomas Keneally’s book The Playmaker, the story is of the first convicts deported to Australia, who build Sydney, and the attempts of their officers and some of the convicts to stage a production of Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer.

On the one hand, Authority, in the shape of officers who believe the prisoners are there for punishment and establishing the colony only. On the other, a group of idealists who wish to bring soul into the community through the power of theatre and language.

What makes this production extraordinary is that it’s a co-production between Nottingham Theatre and Ramps on the Moon, the ground breaking consortium of deaf and disabled actors bringing those skills onto mainstream theatres, originating, in part, from the New Wolsey Theatre.

Director Fiona Buffini has brought together a terrific ensemble, and the story telling skills are expanded beyond the text with audio description, subtitles and BSL expanding the possibilities of the tale, and the range of the audience.

Fine performances abound in this company. Tim Pritchett is a passionate advocate for the arts in the form of Lieutenant Clarke, sincere in his aims, a perfect counterpoint to Colin Conner’s bullying and unimaginative Major Ross. Alex Nowak is excellent as aspiring actor Robert Sideway and Reverend Johnson, and Tom Dawze equally strong as Wisehammer.

The women give haunting and powerful performances, Gbemisola Ikumelo a superb Liz Morden, proud, powerful and dignified, Sapphire Joy a luminous Mary Brenham, Fifi Garfield a hilariously rude and diva like Dabby, and Caroline Parker a scene stealing Meg Long.

In truth, there isn’t a weak link in the cast, each giving clear and concise characterisation.

After seeing this company’s production of Tommy last year; we are going to have to find another word for disabled, as barriers are being trashed in work like this.