Thursday, 16 May 2013

Our Country's Bloody Fantastic

Quick post to say hi again! Slightly back-dated but they are now on tour... follow them. It's worth it:

The St James’s Theatre is a shiny new performance space in London, so it is suitable that its opening night was the first performance of ‘Our Country’s Good’, a play that is still vibrant and relevant even though it’s original run was in 1991. Directed by Max Stafford-Clark, the play, an unconventional love-letter to the unbeatable ability of theatre to bring people together, takes place in 1780s Australia; a handful of unfortunate conflicts find escape and a new lease of life in Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark’s determined rehearsal of ‘The Recruiting Officer’. The set used by the Out of Joint theatre company was beautifully evocative. Stark, simple, but nevertheless filled with the warm colours of hot, earthy Australia, and with foldable cloths falling   from the ceiling to act in turn as a ship’s sails, stage curtains and tents, the small stage did exactly what it was there for; framing the action. And what action it was; with a minimal cast, most taking on both a role of a convict (the oppressed) and of a military figure (the oppressors), this tightly compact drama never stopped going, and never stopped surprising. Fuelled by an incredible cast, alive to every nuance of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s text – notably Lisa Kerr as Duckling, Kathryn O’Reilly as Liz Morden, and Ciaran Owens in the two completely polarised roles of harmless hangman and brutish Captain (although it hardly seems fair to pick names from such a pile) – the play pulled the audience from moment to moment, one minute presenting us with devastating tragedy and cruelty, the next with the beauty of simple human connection and strength. With not a heart unmoved in the entire house, this wonderful revival got a highly deserved standing ovation. They didn’t put a foot wrong.

Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

1 comment: