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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I grew to really enjoy
I worked as part of the stage crew for a college production of this and at first we were all unenthusiastic about it. However, personally it began to grow on me as I saw the actors rehearsing and they did a fantastic job of bringing it to life. I have now begun learning Liz's speech from Act Two Scene One as an audition piece!
Published on 28 Mar 2006 by clairecurtis1987

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8 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A hybrid gone very wrong
Having seen this play last year, I can only now, on second viewing, appreciate the terrible way in which it is written. Being ignorant of certain theatrical forms, the first time I saw this piece, exactly this time last year, I could appreciate it (or rather, I couldn't) as an uneducated member of the audience as far as theatre was concerned. Now a year later I am...
Published on 24 Nov 2005 by reelbigraph2


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I grew to really enjoy, 28 Mar 2006
This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
I worked as part of the stage crew for a college production of this and at first we were all unenthusiastic about it. However, personally it began to grow on me as I saw the actors rehearsing and they did a fantastic job of bringing it to life. I have now begun learning Liz's speech from Act Two Scene One as an audition piece!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and absorbing, but errs on the sappy side., 10 Aug 2003
This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
I would recommend anyone who has an interest in humanity, or drama, to read this play written by wertenbaker, but with the input of a whole cast of actors. Using Max Stafford-Clarke's trademark process, the actors researched a particular character at the Royal Court, and Wertenbaker's final text was based on this improvisation method.
The play details the first play ever put on by a group of convicts sentenced to go to Australia to serve out their term. As much as an argument for the power of theatre as it is a document of the inhumanity borne by the convicts in australia, the reader sees the convicts becoming more and more confident in themselves, and a part of society as the rehearsals begin. As the play progresses, the strict boundaries (shown by the lashing of Sideway at the beginning of the play) between the marines and the convicts are broken down, so far as to allow love between Ralph(marine) and Mary(convict) to occur. Theatre is shown to be an educting social duty that has a part to play in civilisation.
However, I would suggest that there are just too many characters in this play, and it is often confusing to remember who is who, and furthermore, what their opinions are (especially true in the case of the marines). Sometimes, the play has a tendency to go "sappy" or "corny", and this tarnishes the hard hitting message about the mistreatment of convicts it could otherwise have given out.
All in all, worth a read.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover australia, 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
This play is based on fact. By the middle of the seventeenth century the middle class and wealthier citizens of England were deeply frightened of a rising crime rate - particularly crimes against property - which had been created by a swelling population and widespread unemployment. The idea was proposed that convicts could be transported - exiled would be a more accurate term - to a remote part of the globe where the British where they could be used as free laborers to create a strategically located naval outpost: Australia.
When the first fleet arrived at this new penal colony, carrying the first Europeans who would live there, it is estimated that the Aboriginal population of the continent numbered about 300,000, that is roughly one person to every ten square miles. The Royal Marines who served as jailers resented being ordered to this ignoble duty in such an undeveloped part of the world. Their own diaries have shown historians that many of the captors took out their frustrations in brutal treatment of the prisoners. We also learn from these same sources that, in 1789, several of the convicts and one of the officers decided to put on a play for the enjoyment of the entire camp. None had any experience in the theatre, and only a few of the convicts could read, but, against all odds play on the Australian continent, but also in teaching themselves and their observers much about compassion, cooperation, and creativity.
The Playwright
Lael Louisiana Timberlake Wertenbaker was born in the United States and was raised both here and in France. Her father, Charles Wertenbaker, was a foreign correspondent for Time magazine. She attended college in the U.S., graduating from St. John's College in 1966, and soon after, she began working as a writer for Time-Life Books. Later, she taught French in Greece, and by 1970 she had moved to London where she became involved with a number of different small theatre companies and turned to playwrighting. She earned the praise of London critics for a number of outstanding plays which were produced throughout the 1980's. She has received numerous awards including the Most Promising Playwright Award in 1985 for The Grace of Mary Traverse, the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award and the Evening Standard Play of the Year Award in 1988 for Our Country's Good, and the Eileen Anderson Central Television Drama Award in 1989 for The Love of the Nightingale.
Historical Background
Between 1788 and the mid 19th century, approximately 160,000 men, women, and children were transported in bondage from England to Australia.
The prisoners who were transported in the first fleet dispatched to Australia -- those who are depicted in Our Country's Good - included approximately 550 men and almost 200 women. The youngest of the others who were still in their teens -- and the oldest was an eighty-two year old woman named Dorothy Handland who had been convicted of perjury.
In the voyage of the first fleet, the prisoners were kept between decks. There were approximately four convicts for each six square feet of floor space and only about four feet of headroom so that none of the adults could have stood upright. Because of the hazard of fire on board, no candles were allowed in the prisoners' hold, so when the hatches were closed they had neither light nor fresh air. The trip to Australia by that fleet took 252 days (from early May to late January) during which time a total of forty-eight people died: forty convicts, five convict's children, one marine's wife, one marine's child, and one marine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whilst there's life there's hope, 4 May 2007
By 
L. Dablin "The Bibliophile" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
When this book was flopped in front of me and I was told we were going to study it - I could have cried. OCG is notoriously hard to study - not helped by the fact there appear to be no study guides - so I would actually have to make notes.

To be honest this play probably wouldn't have as much of an impact on an audience now as it did the the late 80's when it was published. In the 80's everyone was in uproar about the harsh Criminal Justice Acts Maggie was throwing through the 'ol HoCommons - today everyone is just resigned to them.

Nevertheless - it's still a thought provoking play, and it's sort of grown on me. Probably one of my favourite out of the plays we're studing (not hard considering one's Albee and the other is Shakespeare >_< ).

Eh, I gave it 4 stars because it's alright - I wouldn't recommend it for a bit of light reading - and I send my sympathy if you've found this page because you had to study it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars second hand book, 10 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
My son studies drama. He need to reed quite a lot of books. The second hand books from Amazon are good quality, cheap, and are delivered quickly. He can build up his own library at a reasonable price.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great sevice, 19 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
arrived on time, so pleased my daughter was so happy as they are reading this play for a level at school
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great written book, great story, 12 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
I'm using it in my acting class and we find it there to be a lot if depth to the story for our drama!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Execution or Education?, 30 Mar 2013
This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
Timberlake Wertenbaker's work provides thought provoking insight into the development of society, and indeed humanity, within the first group of settlers in Australia. Of course this is merely a vessel for the real objective of the play, which is to illustrate the value of theatrical education over punishment of the correction of criminals, but it has proven to be a very accessible and enjoyable one. If you have not seen the play performed, I would recommend doing so but, if you're anything like me, it's nice to see it after reading the text as very often one's own interpretation contrasts with that of the theatre company which makes it all the more enjoyable. This particular copy also features an analysis of the play as well as letters from convicts who performed it which provide valuable insight into the educational powers of theatre and enforces the playwright's overarching message. If you are in search of an entertaining read, then this play should appeal to you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, 12 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
Unusual play about the first convict settlers in Australia. A story about the de-humanised convicts being encouraged to put on a play and thereby showing the power of theatre to humanise the cast, in the face of the status quo brutality of the regime that condemned sometimes petty criminals to the hell of transportation. The play follows the gradual recovery of personal integrity and personal realisation as the convicts warm to being actors and shows the incredible bravery and foresight of the first Governor of Australia.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Our Country's Good, 10 Feb 2012
This review is from: Our Country's Good: Based on the Novel the "Playmaker" by Thomas Kenneally (Student Editions) (Paperback)
Although book had different front cover to that shown it was still a perfectly good purchase and welcomed by my teenage daughter who is taking part in this play in the Summer.
It was a shame the seller decided to over price the postage by more than £1.50 though!
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