Sunday, August 03, 2008

Our Country's Good, Review

Saw this play last night. Review will be out in Drum Media on Tuesday. Meantime, here's what I thought in 350 words...


It’s a cheesy way to begin a review but it has to be done: this play’s good.

Based on Thomas Keneally’s novel The Playmaker (which was in turn based on actual events), Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play is set in the rough and grimy times of Britain’s colonisation of Australia. It looks at a bunch of convicts transported for petty crime who have largely given up hope of a better future. They dream of life back home but are resigned to living their bleak lives one day at a time in a foreign land and at the mercy of often hostile officers.

With ferocious lashings and hangings becoming commonplace, crimes of survival in these famine conditions are still on the rise so an alternative to punishment is sought; the convicts will put on a play.

Although the plan is met with resistance from many, the positive benefits gradually manifest themselves and it becomes apparent that this play – written in the late 1980s and set 200 years earlier – resonates strongly now. It’s an engaging and entertaining examination of ideas of the effectiveness of punishment and the importance of compassion, dignity and self-respect.

Set, lighting and sound design were excellent; immediately upon entering the theatre we’re transported in time and place to the creaking, misery soaked bowels of a First Fleet ship. An impressive start, the following couple of hours, for this particular bum on a seat, flew by. The large cast (all steadfastly in character even when on the periphery of a scene) is kept busy often with multiple roles and I was just in there, in the story, sometimes charmed, sometimes moved, sometimes amused, always engrossed.

It’s an amazing thing that these lives and events have been recreated from old journal entries and passed through time from one storyteller to another. Our Country’s Good is going to stay with me for quite a while.

At Darlinghurst Theatre until 23 August.



Anonymous said...

yghbbOur' Country's Good is a brilliant play. I'm studying it for my drama A level and I think the plot is brilliant.
Pippa Georgeson

Lee said...

You are correct, Pippa. Good luck with the studies.

Pip said...

Thank you.
Did you know that Wertenbakerused real people as some of the characters, there is a historical context of them all online somewhere.
Dabby Bryant actaul did sale home.