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." In June 1789 in the penal colony that was later to become the city of Sydney, a marine lieutenant decides to put on a play to celebrate the king's birthday. He casts the play with the English convicts who populate this distant Australian prison camp. Few of them can read, let alone act, and the play is being produced against a background of food shortages and barbaric punishments--brilliantly juxtaposed against the civilizing influence of theatrical endeavor. The "hangman," himself a convict, has been recruited along with a woman, wrongfully accused of stealing. Even as the play is being rehearsed, he measures 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!" "All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition." (The Times, London) 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 unique spititual power." The Telegraph critic sums up, "In the shared delight of her convict cast in the production of the play, [Wertenbaker] suggests, that turns a prison camp into a country."
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- Type of Show Full-length Play
- Product Code O42000
- Cast Size 12
- Min. Royalty Rate $110/perf
- Cost $11.95
- Approx. Run Time 135 min
- Target Audience High School | College and Adult | Senior Adults
- Performing Group High School | College Theatre | Community Theatre | Professional Theatre
- Genre Comedy | Drama
- ISBN(13) 9780871293428
- "One of the most challenging and moving plays we've ever produced. Excellent roles for an advanced ensemble of actors - challenging dialects - and an important message. Dark and disturbing at times - but also incredibly funny - this is not only a love letter to the theatre with lots of meta-theatrical moments and inside jokes, but also testament to the innate good of humanity."
- Review by Kelly Groves, Martin HS Theatre, Arlington, Texas
- "Our Country's Good was a strong choice for our university. Our first year students read Just Mercy over the summer, and discussions about criminal justice systems were part of the curriculum this semester, and this brought 18th century British crime and punishment (and redemption) to the conversation. "
- Review by Jennifer Matthews, The University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.
- "Our Country's Good was one of the most powerful shows we have ever done. It really stretched me as a director and my kids as actors. A wonderful learning experience!"
- Review by Charla Little, Red Oak High School, Red Oak, Texas
- "This play is brilliantÑwell crafted, intellectually challenging and artistically a tour de force. Our Country's Good is both an allegory and a symbolic representation of what theatre is about and what audiences and educational theatre should expect. The challenges presented in this piece are intelligent and comprehensive and allow for a full range of creative possibilities."
- Review by Maggie Kline, Soquel High School, Soquel, Calif.