Summary: A leading London critic describes it as "Highly theatrical, often funny and at times dark and disturbing, it sets an infant civilization on the stage with clarity, economy and insight [as] it relates the true story of the first theatrical performance in Australia." The event occurred in June 1789 when a marine lieutenant decided to put on a play to celebrate the king's birthday in the penal colony that was later to become the city of Sydney. He must cast th ...show moree play with convicts, saved from English gallows and jails, populating this distant Australian prison camp. Few of the convicts can read, let alone act, and the play is being produced against a background of food shortages and barbaric punishments for even the most trivial crimes brilliantly juxtaposed against the civilizing influence of theatrical endeavor. The "hangman," himself a convict assigned to this task, has been recruited for the play along with a woman convict, wrongfully accused of stealing. Even as the play is being rehearsed, he must measure her for a noose. Despite powerful and disturbing scenes such as this, a London critic suggests, "It's far from grim. Actually it's mostly funny!" Another critic, from The Observer, commenting on this says, "Wertenbaker describes with a merry pen this delinquent troupe, and revels in their 18th-century street wisdom." The London Times critic comments, "All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition." The Guardian critic writes, "Our Country's Good is a triumph...a tribute to the transforming power of drama...It is heartening to find someone standing up for theatre's antique spiritual power." The Telegraph critic sums up, "Our Country's Good is, in effect, a celebration of the theatre it depicts, an expression, as the colony's Governor General puts it, of civilization. In the shared delight of her convict case in the production of the play, she [the playwright] suggest, without a trace of sentimentality, the spirit of hope and cooperation that turns a prison camp into a country." Area staging. ...show lessEdition/Copyright: (REV)89
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