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Lyric brings history to the stage

LYRIC Theatre’s production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good provides a poignant look at our nation’s history.

The production was directed by Sue Lindsay and was her first with the production company.

Set in 1789 Sydney, the drama tells the story of an experiment which allowed transported convicts to rehearse and perform in a production of Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer, to celebrate the King’s birthday.

Adapted from a novel by Thomas Keneally, most of the characters in Our Country’s Good are based on real people living in Sydney in 1788 and some of the text is taken from their journals.

Presiding over the colony is Governor Arthur Phillip (David Tattersall), with second lieutenant Ralph Clark (Adrian Darakai), major Robert Ross (Todd Miller) and midshipman Harry Brewer (Murray MacLean).

The ambitious Ralph Clark steps forward with a play, to be performed by convicts in the penal colony.

But as the cast of not just amateurs, but thieves, whores and ruffians rehearses, Clark is derided by authority.

He must overcome the challenges of directing a play in which most of his actors can’t even read the script, and worse, yanked out of rehearsals to be flogged.

As the performance progresses, a sense of common purpose begins to take hold and Clark’s own transformation is as marked as that of his prisoners.

The young officer becomes strangely seduced by the varied life of the new world and not least, convict and actress Mary Brenham (Caitlin Charles).

Charles’ portrayal of the young, shy convict is moving and well rounded. She is endearing on the stage and commands the attention of the audience.

Leanne Crimp is brilliant as fearsome thief Liz Morden, dour until given a new identity through the process of performance.

The moment when she saves herself from hanging out of loyalty to her fellow actors was a highlight.

Hadassah Wanstall is convincing as Duckling Smith, challenged by her love for officer midshipman Harry Brewer, who is himself in a battle with the ghosts of his past.

Joanne Street’s homesick Devonite Dabby Bryant is a delight to watch and really highlights her character’s true desire to return to England.

Miller’s performance of Clark’s most vocal opponent, major Robert Ross, was well done and true to his character’s Scottish heritage and disagreeable nature.

Our Country’s Good is as entertaining as it is challenging and leaves the audience with a small insight into the early days of British settlement in Australia.

Evening performances are showing at Leongatha’s Mesley Hall on Thursday, October 5, Friday and October 6 and Saturday, October 7 with a matinee performance also showing on Saturday.

Go to lyrictheatre.net.au for ticketing and more information.

Well played: the cast of Lyric Theatre’s production of Our Country’s Good after their preview performance last Thursday.

Short URL: https://thestar.com.au/?p=22727

Posted by on Oct 3 2017. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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