Our Country’s Good is a show which explores the ways in which theatre brings hope and meaning to those in an unjust and oppressive society. Set in New South Whales during the 1780s, the show follows a group of convicts who are asked to put on a play for a group of Royal Marine Officers. The performance and the setting of a desolate British colony serves as an allegory for greater issues of mass incarceration, class struggle, and discrimination.
Even though these themes often lead to haunting situations, the show’s dark sense of humor provides the audience with a periodic relief from the stressful implications of the plot. This production easily could have suffered from being too dreary, if not for a talented cast of actors who know how to switch from a comedic to dramatic beat.
Even more impressive is the spectacular use of double casting. In some productions this can come off as confusing or distracting to the audience; however, often I found myself losing myself in the gripping drama, and forgetting which roles were played by the same actor. Each character was distinct and had their own posture and presence. The cast transformed flawlessly into their respective roles with very little time between their different scenes.
I am usually tentative of sets in which the audience is surrounding the performance. Not only is blocking a much more arduous task, but it can lead to certain dramatic moments being lost on those who can only see the back of an actor’s head. However, I cannot give enough praise to director Leah Adcock-Starr, who aligned every scene to be appreciated from all sides of the stage.
I cannot emphasize enough the sheer talent that clearly went into this production. The set design while minimalist, allowed the audience to broaden the use of their imagination. The changes of light from a tent or the bottom of a ship meant that every scene is in some way unique, with only the talent of the crew behind its splendor.
I highly recommend a viewing of this production; the direction and technical aspects are all impeccable. This would not be possible without some of the most talented acting I have seen in the past year. Each actor had a special moment which brought you to have a closer understanding of their character’s fears, dreams, and ambitions. All of these elements come to make Our Country’s Good, a play you won’t want to miss.
Our Country’s Good. 1620 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122. Jan-23 to Feb-22, 2020. Thu-Fri-Sat, and Mon at 7:30 pm, Special Sunday matinee February-16. Tickets: http://www.strawshop.org/our-countrys-good.html