Our Country’s Good, 4****, Birmingham Rep & Ramps on the Moon


A Nottingham Playhouse Production in Co-Production with Ramps on the Moon

Our Country’s Good: Timberlake Wertenbaker, based on The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally


Birmingham Rep Theatre, The House

Runs: 3h, one interval, till 2 June 2018

Bham Rep BO: 0121 236 4455


Review: Rod Dungate, 25 May 2018



Convicts with convictions, and some officers with convictions too

Ramps on the Moon is a most interesting and inventive company, dedicated to providing challenging work and integrating actors with disabilities into the mainstream theatre. Their battle is hard, and they have some distance to go, but their production quality is excellent. I remember with great fondness their witty production of The Government Inspector. Here, in coproduction, they are in slightly more serious mood with a production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s e Our Country’s Good.

The play is based on Thomas Kealey’s novel The Playmaker, and tells the story of a group of convicts shipped to Australia in 1789; it is a brutal, brutal regime, but under the enlightened leadership of a couple of military officers, a group of convicts are encouraged to perform Farquhar’s 1706 comedy The Recruiting Officer.

Wertenbaker’s version (and can one dare to say this?) is not perfect. There is a complex set up and the story takes far too long to engage us so that we really care. It may be, too, that this production could do with a bit more pace in its earlier scenes.

However, once it gets going it is marvellous. The story is disturbing as the cruelty of the State is drawn in front of us. Moreover, we are struck too at the sheer beauty of some of the writing, excellently placed before us by this company, and by the play’s politics. It is a powerful mix.

This is a strong ensemble company, but it is not just the camaraderie that pulls us in, it is the commitment and intensity with which all the company play. They clearly understand the importance of the debate and wish their production to mean something. Everyone has a great moment or two. Tim Pritchett’s Ralph Clark is a terrific combination of naïveté and gentle boldness. Gbemisola Ikumelo is a mesmerising Liz Morden. Fergus Rattigan (Ketch) and Tom Dawze (Wisehammer) bring particular warmth and often humour to their characters.

At a time when funding for arts is diminishing at a speed only superseded by that which art is disappearing from education, we should note that this powerful play is not only about justice and power, but also about the redemptive power of art – and, yes, drama.

Colin Connor: Major Robbie Ross

Tom Dawze: John Wisehammer / Lieutenant George Johnson

Jarrad Ellis-Thomas: Captain Jemmy Campbell

Dave Fishley: Captain David Collins

Fifi Garfield: Dabby Bryant

Keiren Hamilton-Amos: Caesar / Second Lieutenant William Faddy

Gbemisola Ikumelo: Liz Morden

Kieron Jechinis: Governor-in-Chief, Captain Arthur Philip

Sapphire Joy: Mary Brenham

Will Lewis: John Arscott . Captain Watkin Tench

Milton Lopes: Aboriginal Australian / Audio Describer

Alex Nowak: Robert Sideway / Reverend Johnson

Caroline Parker: Meg Long / Captain Will Dawes

Tim Pritchett: Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark

Fergus Rattigan: James ‘Ketch’ Freeman

Garry Robson: Midshipman Harry Brewer

Emily Rose Salter: Duckling Smith

Director: Fiona Buffing

Designer: Neil Murray

Lighting Designer: Mark Jonathan

Composer / Sound Designer: Jon Nicholls

Associate Director: Simon Startin

BSL Creative Consultant: Paula Garfield

Assistant BSL Consultant: Kamaldeep Deo

Audio Description Creative Consultant: Alison Crake and Ruth James

Audio Description Script: Milton Lopes

Fight Director: Phillip d’Orleans

Movement Director: Cydny Uffllndell-Phillips



ReviewsGate Copyright Protection