Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Our Country's Good

Gorseinon College , Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea , May 22, 2004
"A soldier is a soldier and has a right to respect." In the light of current events in Iraq, this line from Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good - based on Thomas Keneally's novel The Playmaker - has a particular resonance, and indeed the play's exploration of the relationships between captors and captives takes on a whole new significance.

This fantastic ensemble piece - performed here by students from Gorseinon College, widely recognised for its high standards in terms of performing arts - is a gripping drama in which a group of convicts transported to Australia in the 18th century is taken under the wing of an officer who helps them to mount a production of George Farquhar's play, The Recruiting Officer.

Cue a plethora of heated exchanges about the nature of performance and its role in improving the quality of people's lives, not to mention the hostility from from senior officers who believe it to be a foolish and dangerous enterprise.

The cast work well together and the individual characters are well defined and beautifully fleshed out by these talented youngsters, who - under the direction of Nick Evans - have worked hard to ensure the success of this production.

In an ensemble piece of this nature, it is perhaps unfair to single out individual performances, but credit must be given to Jordan Piles(Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark), Victoria Coats(Dabby Bryant), Sara Gregory(Mary Brenham)and Robin Jones as the flamboyantly theatrical Robert Sideway.

Carli Hughes also excels in not one but three roles as Captain Watkin Tench, Black Caesar and an indigenous Australian who - somewhat bizarrely - wears more clothes than most of the teenage girls who turned up to watch the opening night performance.

Technically, the production also scores heavily, with a good strong musical soundtrack, warm lighting and a minimalist set design which evokes the barren heat of the continent on which the tale is set.

Given the reputation of Gorseinon College, it is inevitable that many of the performers seen here will go on to achieve success in their chosen field. It will be fascinating to watch their careers develop.

Reviewed by: Graham Williams

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