Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Our Country's Good. It was directed by Roger Smart and it was by Timberlake Wertenbaker. It was about a bunch of convicts in Australia and Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark (Steve Peebles) wanted to put on a play called The Recruiting Officer with them. There were a bunch of convicts in it and some of them were going to be hanged but they weren't and some of them you couldn't really see how they were convicts because they didn't seem like bad people. You could be hanged for any kind of stealing then. It seems unfair. It is about being able to start a community by just knowing people and learning with them for awhile. This play makes you want to know more about these characters and their entire life and background. You want to find out if Mary Brenham (Abbey Smith) has a baby, and you want to find out if Duckling (Mary Franke) finds another person to love and if Dabby (Christina Gorman) escapes. You want to find out if Ketch Freeman (Addison Heimann) actually becomes a famous actor, if Sideway (Kevin Viol) opens up his own theater company and everybody is in it, and if John Arscott (Ben Werling) actually makes it through the play. I looked up some of these things and you should too after you go see the play.
There were these three girls named Mary, Dabby, and Liz (Eileen Niccolai). I thought that it was really funny how Dabby and Liz were sort of fighting over Mary because she was the only one who could read and they were trying to read the script so they could be in the play. The women seemed less educated than the men. When they started the scene, Mary just started basically reading, and then she was like, "It's your line." And Liz was just like, "I don't need the script. You take it." And then Liz just looked at her script and looked up like, "I don't know what to do with this." At the beginning they don't really like each other, but then as they go through the play they get to like each other more and more and get to know each other more and more. These were my favorite characters. I think they did a good job making these characters even more lovable even though they were convicts.
I thought that when the lieutenants came in to the rehearsal space it was scary. I felt very terrified for the convicts. I thought that they were going to all die because the major and his lieutenants were treating everybody so badly. I hated it when they made Sideway show the whip-marks on his back. And then they tried to make Mary Brenham show them the tattoo on her leg. They were doing that because they wanted to humiliate her. And they wanted to make Dabby bark like a dog to show that she was an animal and not a human being. That made me feel really angry because they made people do stuff that they didn't want to do. This scene shows us that people shouldn't be treated like this. It made you like the convict characters more.
I thought that John Wisehammer was a really cool character. I liked how he was a nerd in the way that he loved words and he knew all the meanings. I think that they wanted that character in the play because he would be good for the play because he basically helped build on ideas that they had in the story. He also makes the title line himself, so you see he has helped with the story. He writes his own beginning to The Recruiting Officer because he wants to make it more comfortable for the convicts. The title comes in when he says, "We left our country for our country's good." He means that we left for Australia so that other people in England would feel better. I liked the moment in the prison where Liz and John were telling each other about their life stories. It was sweet because you knew that they were warming up to each other.
People who would like this show are people who like learning about convicts, Australia, and nerds who love words (like me!). People should go see this show because it makes you curious about the convicts and how their lives were in Australia. This show is suspenseful, educational, and makes you care about people that you didn't know you could care about so much.
Photos: Michael Brosilow