Our Country’s Good, by Timberlake Wertenbaker is a tale of love, loss and theatrics. It follows the story of a group of convicts, exiled to Australia in the 1700s. During their time in this barren country, Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark decides to stage the restoration comedy, The Recruiting Officer. Using the convicts as cast members, Clark endeavours to stage the show against all odds.
Next Stage Theatre Company tackles this show in an interesting way. The acting space takes up the “stage” at the Mission, as well as half of the auditorium. This was a really unique way to use the entire theatre, and made scene changed much more fluid than they would have been otherwise. Atmospheric lighting and sound effects aided these transitions. A large platform in the centre of the auditorium acting area was used very effectively to create different objects, from the hangman’s noose to curtains for The Recruiting Officer.
The team of actors were well cast and worked together really successfully; the ad-libbed, ensemble parts of the show demonstrated this, although sometimes these were a little long and took focus away from the action. The standout performances of the night came from Tom Ash-Miles (Robert Sideway/Captain David Collins) and Joshua Ward (James “Ketch” Freeman/Major Robbie Ross). Both of these actors delivered knock-out performances, and kept us entertained throughout. Having said this, the entire cast did a great job to create an enjoyable evening.
The show was very well put together and technically worked very well. At a length of approximately two and a half hours the show could have done with a bit of cutting to get it down to a more appropriate length; this would have had little effect on the overall piece and would have made the show work more efficiently.
Next Stage travels to the Minack Theatre this summer with an entertaining show; I’m sure they will have a very successful run.