Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Stark and minimalist

Our Country's Good

Swansea University Players , Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea , December 11, 2002
Swansea University Players have been floundering during their lass few productions, partly due to a shortage of strong male performers, but also because their most recent offerings ("The Crucible" and "Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy") have revolved solely around the demonisation of women.

Happily, this production of Timberlake Wertenbaker's wordy drama about a group of convicts deported to Australia saw the Players getting back on track. While there are still problems which need to be addressed (female performers, for example, are still being cast in male roles) this was an engaging piece which worked well and drew the audience into the story very effectively.

Eric Yang, Benjamin May, Michael Erksine, Rob Stringer and Rebecca Chater were among those who helped to make this an above-average production, but the real scene-stealer proved to be Anna Cosgrove, who gave a tremendously full-bodied performance - in every sense of the word - as good-time girl Dabby Bryant.

The “play-within-a-play” angle – always a difficult trick to pull off – worked beautifully here, and one line in particular “people who don’t pay attention shouldn’t go to the theatre” could well have been aimed specifically at a portly gent in the front row who had fallen soundly asleep amidst a pile of shopping bags.

The stark and minimalist visual approach may have been forced upon the company for purely practical reasons, but it worked in the play’s favour, allowing the audience to concentrate upon the characterization and dialogue with no distractions.

Good to see this energetic young company returning to their previous good form: one can only hope that the high standards of this piece can be repeated in the future – and that some of the tardier elements of the audience will pay the performers the courtesy of getting to their seats on time.

Reviewed by: Graham Williams

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