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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
information, call (713) 743-2929.