REVIEW: Our Country’s Good at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds
This 1988 play is set in an Australian penal colony in 1788 where convicts from the UK were transported to serve harsh sentences for various felonies.
The appalling conditions on the ship were graphically shown which included near starvation, physical and sexual abuse of the female prisoners by the crew.
The depiction in a silhouetted form of a prisoner being lashed is not for the faint hearted.
This is most challenging production for any group to perform, but the Theatre Royal Young Company’s performance definitely ticked all the boxes.
There is a vast array of characters – 22 to be precise, so there was doubling and tripling of roles from the 17 cast members.
Greg Hanson played the well intentioned and honest Governor of the Colony who found an ally in Lt Ralph Clark (Sam Norris).
Their ethos was of fairness and human dignity towards the convicts and finding ways of self-improvement.
Some were a challenge such as the embittered Liz (Sidi Welton) who seemed beyond redemption.
Others such as Mary (Asha Ray) responded positively to staging a play, but several of Clark’s fellow officers did everything to undermine these efforts.
On a lighter side Sideway (Sam Bird) provided plenty of laughs when rehearsing his new found acting skills.
However, the debate about punishment versus rehabilitation still continues today and this thought provoking play adds a historical dimension.
Well done to this company of youngsters ages 16 to 21 years for tackling such complex issues in a most professional and entertaining way.
Our Country’s Good will be performed at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds today at 2pm and 7.30pm.