by Dave Massey twitter.com/brumhour
Our Country’s Good at Birmingham Rep
Featuring a cast with a different range of physical abilities, Our Country’s Good has landed at Birmingham Rep until Saturday 2nd June. From the very casual use of the C-word in almost the first line, I knew this was going to be a bold and brash production and I wasn’t wrong.
Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker is based on a novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally sees petty criminals and their jailers in an Australian penal colony in the 1780s, the jailers are “respected” Royal Marines. Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark (Tim Pritchett), one of the marines decides that he should get the prisoners to perform in a play, The Recruiting Officer.
The Recruiting Officer is actually a real play from George Farquhar, which also features army officers and the underclass. Some of the other officers are against the play being prepared, let alone performed, especially Major Robbie Ross (Colin Connor) who perfectly prepared to sabotage the play by having the colony’s hangman James ‘Ketch’ Freeman (Fergus Rattigan) measure up the actors for brand new petty crimes, however this measuring up is with the hangman’s rope. Major Robbie Ross is particularly targeting Liz Morden (Gbemisola Ikumelo) to set an example to the other prisoners.
With a cast of over 15 actors some of whom are playing dual roles and Caroline Parker who immediately memorable as Meg Long aka “Shitty Meg” then looks totally unrecognizable as Lieutenant Will Dawes. A google search revealed that William Dawes was a real British Marine who went over to New South Wales.
This is a story with some very serious overtones and a humorous personality hidden just under the surface. I found myself grinning from ear to ear then really feeling annoyed that the marines were stopping these aspiring actors from performing. Other actors I really loved were Emily Rose Salter as Duckling Smith rescued by a marine Midshipman Harry Brewer, Garry Robson expertly portrays Harry Brewer with his mental health issues and tormented personality.
Strong female roles were shown in Fifi Garfield as Dabby Bryant who wants to return to Devon, Sapphire Joy as Mary Brenham, a literate thief who wins the starring role in The Recruiting Officer.
Then there is Milton Lopes as The Aboriginal Australian, a dreamlike character weaving in and out of the performance.
This is a great play for those looking for a different night out with a host of great characters to explore. A simple decking set and strong lighting movements the days and nights roll in and out swiftly.
Check out Our Country’s Good at Birmingham Rep until 2nd June. Tickets available here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/our-countrys-good.html
This isn’t a sponsored post. #BrumHour was invited to see Our Country’s Good at Birmingham Rep.