OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD – Stirling Players

OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD – Stirling Players

Reviewed by Fran Edwards

September 2016

This play, written by Timberlake Wertenbaker in the 1980’s, is set in 1789 in the newly settled NSW penal colony and revolves around the first performance in the colony, a play called The Recruiting Officer. The cast were a ragged bunch of prison inmates and n’er-do-wells produced by an officer Lieutenant Clark, mostly against the wishes of his fellow officers, but with the backing of Governor Phillips.
The set, by Dennis Peach, was quite striking, mostly white and sparsely furnished, much like a blank canvas, drawing a parallel with the newly established settlement. It also allowed Sally Putnam’s lighting to be used to good effect. Kudos to the costume team (Vikki Burrett, Sandra Greig, Amy Greig, Rob Andrewatha) for well researched convict clothing and uniforms.
The play is a little slow and the performances uneven and on occasion the diction of some characters suffer. However there are a few fine performances. Lee Cook does well as 2nd Lieutenant Clark, the convict’s director. He argues convincingly for the production of he play. David Greig’s portrayal of Midshipman Brewer is patchy; he does not carry off very plausibly, what can be described as ‘the mad scene’, 
Patrick Marlin as John Arscott (the prisoner who gets flogged) and Jakob Maddocks who played John Wisehammer (the one who is guilty because he’s Jewish) both give good performances. As Captain Collins, Tim Williams was well balanced and reasonable.
Dave Sims is remarkable as the unsympathetic, Scottish Major Ross, happy to use his superior rank to steamroller other officers. He is equally engaging as Ketch Freeman, the nervous, Irish convict given the unenviable job of hangman. He maintains both accents and characters throughout.
Among the convicts and others, Jason Sardinha is convincing as the Aboriginal and Black Caesar from Madagascar. Katherine Sibereisen is bold as Liz Morden and Mo Johnson plays up to the role of Meg. Jean Collins gave a good characterisation as Mary, showing good development and was well supported by Ellie McPhee as Dabby and Kate van der Horst as Duckling.
This was a good opening night of an interesting production which will improve.

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This production was reviewed by:

Fran Edwards
Fran Edwards
Involved in theatre since the mid 70’s. Acting, directing, costume design, back stage and more recently reviewer. Fran has experience in most aspects of theatre and an interest in Youth Theatre. Fran was a former TASA president (12yrs) has been a reviewer for 14 years.

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