Welcome return of Royal Court classic 'Our Country's Good'

Feb 14, 2013

Max Stafford-Clark revives original production of Timberlake Wertenbaker's acclaimed play

What you need to know
A revival of Timberlake Wertenbaker's acclaimed play Our Country's Good has opened at St James Theatre, London. The play first premiered at the Royal Court 25 years ago before transferring to the West End and Broadway, and winning major awards. The new St James production is by the play's original director, Max Stafford-Clark.

Our Country's Good, based on a novel by Thomas Keneally, tells the story of a group of convicts in colonial Australia who put on a play. As the production develops, the barriers between captors and captives break down. Runs until 23 March.

What the critics like
This is a play "bursting with humanity, humour, heartache and passion", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. Max Stafford-Clark's "vivid and absorbing revival" is aided by performances that are both "hilarious and deeply affecting".

This is "a modern masterpiece, lovingly revived", says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. Timberlake Wertenbaker's "rich, warm play about convicts treading the boards behind bars has lost none of its punch".

There's a reason why Timberlake Wertenbaker's play has become a curriculum favourite, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. Stafford-Clark's "vivid and persuasive" mix of realism and jokes, love and lust and loss, "pays emotional dividends".

What they don't like
On one level it's "a blatant propaganda job for theatre", says Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. But it's also a "cracking story", and when the convicts finally put on their show, it's hard not "to cheer them to success and freedom".

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