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Our Country's Good Paperback – February 27, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0871293428 ISBN-10: 0871293420 Edition: Acting

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 109 pages
  • Publisher: Dramatic Publishing; Acting edition (February 27, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871293420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871293428
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 4.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wertenbaker has searched history and found in it a humanistic lesson for hard modern times: rough, sombre, undogmatic and warm" The Sunday Times "Highly theatrical, often funny and at times dark and disturbing, it sets an infant civilization on the stage with clarity, economy and insight" The Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer --The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Timberlake Wertenbaker was born in France and was Resident Writer for 'Shared Experience' in 1983 and the Royal Court Theatre 1984-85. She is best known for her play Our Country's Good (1988), based on the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally. First performed at the Royal Court in 1988, it was awarded the Laurence Olivier/BBC Award for Best New Play, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best New Foreign Play and was nominated for six 'Tonies'.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. G. Nicholson on January 25, 2006
As an A level theatre studies student, "Our Country's Good" is, for me, an extraordinary simulacrum of our current trauma, and the ways in which art can both enlighten the best in us and help us to transcend the intolerable worst.

The last reviewer, who stated the play as `stupid', obviously has no imagination and knows little about the underlying themes and context within each character and the play as a whole.

Rich, funny, haunting, and deeply moving, Wertenbaker has searched history and found a humanistic parable for our harsh modern era: theatre is what makes us human in the face of absolute cruelty.

"Our Country's Good" is definitely a must-read and see for anyone who believes in the ability of the theatre to move and change lives.
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This is a 3 1/2 star play. An earlier critic noted that the lead male character is not very interesting and that some dialogue seems to go nowhere. I agree with both of those statements. That said, this is decent read and a good play to see in person (I saw it at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis during the summer of 2014).

Two great characters with interesting experiences and philosophies are Ketch and Captain Phillip. Ketch is a prisoner who was given the choice "hang or be hanged." He chose to become a hangman and earned the scorn of his fellow prisoners. In later stages of the play, we learn about his sad (unfair) background.

Captain Phillip is the real gem of this play. He was a retired British Naval officer who was asked to become the Governor of Australia and oversee the penal colony and the building of the society. He urges Lt. Clark to put on a play using the prisoners in order to show them and others that they are human. The second scene in Act Two contains one of the great dialogues in modern theater.

A hint of it:

Phillip: If you break conventions, it's inevitable you make enemies, Lieutenant. This play irritates them.
Ralph: Yes and I --
Phillip: Socrates irritated the state of Athens and was put to death for it.
Ralph: Sir --
Phillip: Would you want a world without Socrates?
Ralph: Sir --
Philip: In the Meno, one of Plato's great dialogues, have you read it, Lieutenant, Socrates demonstrates that a slave boy can learn the principles of geometry as well as a gentleman.
Ralph: Ah --
Phillip: In other words, he shows that human beings have an intelligence which has nothing to do with the circumstances into which they are born.
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By A Playwright on June 22, 2011
I saw this show years ago on Broadway. I was standing in the TIX line with my husband, and the woman behind us recommended it. Mimimal set, especially for a Broadway production, and almost all of the actors were playing double roles. The show is everything that is good about theatre. Maximum impact because the magic happens in the minds of the audience. I'm amazed that it isn't produced more frequently. The theme is theatre as a civilizing influence. I couldn't agree more.
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By Yingna on September 27, 2014
Verified Purchase
Brand new and fast
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C.H. Waterson on December 27, 2004
I was in this play in college (also as David Collins, same as another reviewer, ironically) and yet I absolutely hated this play. Not only do I think that the dramatic action is just plain stupid (the structure of the play completely inhibits any dramatic build), most of the monologues do not read at all.

The male and female leads have a barely developed relationship that is almost never seen onstage. The male lead is possibly the most boring priss ever written. Supporting parts are barely examined or are introduced and then dropped (i.e. Watkin Tench, Collins, Meg, etc.) The play further ignores huge character points that were developed in the book, for instance, the past relationship between Dabby Bryant and the male lead. The only character in this drama worth playing is Harry Brewer who nonetheless is still a bizarre character whose Gollum-Schizophrenia monologue is almost as stupid as his lover's "If you live, I will..." monologue. How in God's name you actually build her speech in any fashion I'll never understand.

Essentially, the play tries unsuccessfully to mesh together realism with various Brechtian devices. While I can appreciate the play as something different from a lot of what is on the modern stage, sometimes change is not a good thing, as this piece of artistic pretension demonstrates.
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