Our Country's Good

Written by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Directed by Edward Dick
Liverpool Playhouse (2nd-24th February 2007)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Staged in an unusual setting at the Playhouse - part of the audience sat at the back of the theatre with the stage erected across the stalls with the people in the circle on a level with the actors - this is a powerful, imaginative and compelling in-house production, based on the ‘The Playmaker’ by Thomas Keneally.

The ten-strong cast, including three of Liverpool's premier actors - Leanne Best (Unprotected), Andrew Schofield (Blood Brothers) and John McArdle (Raving Beauties) - each played a variety of roles, ranging from convicts and soldiers to the well heeled. The ensemble appeared to relish the interchange of characters they performed.

It is difficult to imagine the often barbarous British colonists in Australia in the 18th century allowing convicts to rehearse and perform in the play within a play (The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar), which is the main focus of this production. Nevertheless, it addressed a lot of issues, such as injustice, class divide, mental cruelty and the pathetic spectacle of humans being reduced to a bestial state by fellow humans. Sounds familiar today doesn't it?

Schofield was particularly eye-catching as the mischievous convict who has pretensions of becoming an actor, often citing the influence of the famous Shakespearian actor David Garrick.

Spanning nearly two and a half hours, the production is enhanced by the creative use of sound effects, lighting and music.

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