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Our Country's Good

posted 20 Aug 2009, 23:54 by DawnandRuss Crooks   [ updated 3 Sep 2009, 06:17 ]
Wycliffe Drama Group's latest offering is now travelling to the Edinburgh Festival, and if I were going, I would see it again- despite the choice of 1000 different performances daily in that city. It is a classic play requiring-and getting- 5 star performances from all the cast of 14. They play the outcasts of society who left England for "our country's good", (one convict's description), and also those in authority who had the care of the starving, lawless penal colony of Botany Bay.
The humane Lieutenant Clarke (a fine performance from Russ Crooks), gets permission to put on a play, using fairly reluctant convicts as actors. Since all his cast have all been brutally treated and therefore have become brutalised in turn, his choice of a comedy, "The Recruiting Officer", is perhaps less than wise! Amazingly rehearsals continue despite Liz Morden waiting to be hanged (Sylvia Smith in a strong role) and rehearsing with her hang man Ketch, (Richard Holyoak). Anyone who has been involved with an amateur play will empathise during these hilarious scenes!
However "Our Country's Good" has it all. It is funny, but also it's sexy, cruel and yet incredibly tender. The scene between Clarke and his leading lady Mary Brenham, (Jacqui Denson), when they fall in love, was positively life affirming. Becky Harwood's heartbreak when, as Duckling, she mourns the death of her lover, Harry Brewer, is in a class of its own. Chris Green played Harry, on the edge of madness, with great skill.
This is a fine company production all round, with no weak links and excellent direction from Richard Hill. Get yourself to Edinburgh where our local group is doing us proud!
Vivien Window
Leicestershire Harborough Mail