"Our Country's Good"
Written by Timberlake Werenbaker and based on the Thomas Keneally play "The Playmaker". This is the story of a group of convicts in a penal colony and focuses on four British men who have just arrived in Sydney, Governor Arthur Philip, Captain Watkin Tench, Captain David Collins, and Midshipman Harry Brewer.
They debate the purpose of imprisonment. On one side of the debate is the idea that it is to punish criminals—on the other side, that it exists to rehabilitate them.
They also argue whether or not criminals are born as such, or whether crime is a learned behaviour. Tench tells the others that the convicts are entertained by hangings, so the governor orders the midshipman to find a hangman.
There are three criminals who have been found guilty of stealing food, and they will be hanged, one of them a woman which doesn't lie well with some of the men. The governor also wants the convicts to put on a play, as less violent entertainment.
This production is in association with Ramps On The Moon who last put in an amazing production of "Tommy" at The Playhouse.
Ramps On The Moon are a company with around 60% of the cast members having some level of disability, which adds a special element to their plays. It also shows that disability in any way is nor a barrier where talent is concerned. Their role in this beautiful piece of theatre injects something very special to the story and performance.
While there's a lot of "in your face" and shocking stuff in this play - The Hangman reluctantly measuring up Liz Morden to be hanged, so that the "drop" would be right, was unnerving, as was the sound and screams of one of the other prisoners being flogged, chilled the blood.
There's also a great deal of comedy in this play, both physical and verbal, much of this provided by Caroline Parker as Meg Long.
I also love the theatrical etiquette nods to the audience as well. As someone who believes that an audience should show respect for the actors and the other audience members, I felt like applauding these nods.
Directed by Fiona Buffini, she has helped bring the beauty of the play and the writing, and has presented this in a most entertaining way. Along with the actors, Fiona has brought out the humour and human side of the characters.
Loved the simple but beautiful set (Neil Murray) and the incidental music (Jon Nicholls) which moved the scenes on with fluidity.
It's an excellent cast which nudges the boundaries of theatre, which is something as an avid theatre goer, and a lover of boundary pushing productions like this, I absolutely adore.
This play is as relevant today as ever. It's an education, an intelligent and entertaining watch and is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 24 March 2018.