I always look forward to seeing shows at the Nottingham Playhouse. They offer such a variety of incredible shows all presented in innovative and refreshing ways and ’Our Country’s Good’ is no different. Directed by Fiona Buffini the play tells the story of the first penal colony in Australia. Fiona herself describes the play as being about “being constrained by the social order.” and despite having been written about events long since passed the themes throughout are still so relevant today. One of the main events within the play is that of the convicts being directed in a play as a form of education and rehabilitation, which is an invaluable message to take from the show during a time when cuts to the Arts and Arts Education are so rife.
This show is developed with Ramps on the Moon which puts D/deaf and disabled performers and crew at the forefront of their productions. The entire cast are incredible and the way in which the show has been reshaped and developed taking into consideration all abilities and disabilities is quite astounding. The incorporation of sign language and subtitling into the show did not feel forced, it was as if it was written into the original material itself. Every touching exchange and every comedic moment was made fully accessible to whoever may have been in the audience and it really is a testament to hard work of the creative minds behind this production.
I will always speak highly of the Nottingham Playhouse as I think when it comes to inclusion they do it better than any other theatre in the region. Their subtitled and signed performances alongside their dementia and autism friendly performances making theatre accessible for all – well, this show marries all of those things together and more to create a truly wonderful piece of theatre that anyone and everyone can enjoy no matter what night of the run they are to come.
I have already said that the entire cast an incredible in their roles, each with their stand out moments, particularly Gbemisola Ikumelo in the role of the hardened Liz Morden. She is so powerful in her role but also brings a softness to the character which creates some truly moving moments. Another stand out performance in the show comes from Caroline Parker, who plays both Meg Long and Lieutenant Will Dawes, as well as doing a lot of the speaking parts alongside the actors who sign. For some actors, the amount of work she has to do in the show would be a challenge, but she makes it seem effortless and is quite simply brilliant.
Alex Nowak in the roles of Robert Sideway and Reverend Johnson was also a delight to watch, bringing a lot of comedy to his roles, playing them both fantastically. The entire cast should be praised over and over for their detailed and careful performances, each giving us their characters truths and expressing them in a way that incorporates so many mediums of storytelling. It is a privilege to witness their performances.
The sound design by Jon Nicholls, lighting by Mark Jonathan and stage design by Neil Murray all come together to support the story being told on stage creating wonderful atmosphere and changes of mood.
This show is unlike any other I have seen and I feel truly lucky to have been a part of the audience. I emplore everyone to go and see this interesting, challenging and diverse piece of theatre!
‘Our Country’s Good’ runs at the Nottingham Playhouse 9th – 24th March 2018.
Photo credits to Catherine Ashmore.
Until next time x
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