Friday, February 15, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 94


 
 









 

UH production of 'Our Country's Good' to open today

By Geronimo Rodriguez
Daily Cougar Staff

Assigned to oversee the first arrival of prisoners shipped to the deserted land of Botany Bay, Australia, in 1788,
Governor-in-Chief Arthur Philip decides to put on a play. An educated and artistic fellow, the governor's intentions are altruistic,
and the audience later witnesses how his idea forms into a vehicle of hope for the convicts under his command.

UH's Brian Byrnes directs a version of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good that incorporates theater to reflect
humanity. With precision, the director implements clever dialogue, beautiful lighting, a few ingenious scenic transitions and a
number of engaging performances by members of UH's School of Theater.

The characters' profiles are swamped with crimes, ranging from committing murder to stealing food for survival. Some of the
male characters are strong with dimmed hope, while the female characters are stronger; most of them have sold their bodies to
compete in the world and still find themselves trailing in life.

For example, Liz Morden, played by Ivy Castle, is the most aggressive character if not the strongest; the bitter convict was
blamed for a crime by her father and then beaten in the streets as punishment.

Another figure, Charlesanne Rabensburg's character Dabby Bryant, enjoys her body and fills her scenes with sarcasm in a way
that expresses how she's accepted her niche in society.

As the governor's orders are followed and the play goes on, the convicts transcend their oppression and set their minds on
rehearsing the play.

The play-within-the-play, The Recruiting Officer, is directed by Second Lt. Ralph Clark, played by Brian Hamlin, who leads the
prisoners through the groundwork of the theatrical performance.

Perhaps the most colorful character during the rehearsals is Sideway, played well by Brandon Hearnsberger. The condemned
pickpocket's overzealous approach to acting is certain to have audiences laughing during the scenes in which he is
showcased.

Along with excellent lighting design by Kevin Rigdon, the way in which Byrnes positions the characters is a story in itself. Even
characters that don't speak as much as others benefit from the director's theatrical eye.

Byrnes' talent is only sharpened by the effort from set designer Paige A. Wilson, sound designer Janel J. Badrina and costume
designer Matthew A. Schlieff.

In one of the most ingenious scene transitions, Jovan Jackson's character, Black Caesar, is transformed into his role as
Governor-in-Chief Arthur Philip.

As far as the double casting found in Our Country's Good, Byrnes feels the thematic tool accommodates the department's
intentions for the play.

"It's a vehicle for the piece in that we're not trying to hide the fact that the play is about the performance and transition of
character," he said.

Our Country's Good opens this weekend. Show times are 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23 and 2 p.m. Feb. 24. For more
information, call (713) 743-2929.
 
 
 
 
 

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