OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD
KEGS Drama at King Edward VI School, Chelmsford
This powerful play about the redemptive power of theatre is a brilliant choice for a school drama department.
And you couldn't hope to see it better done than by this talented company of sixth form students under the firm direction of James French.
There are many outstanding performances: Ross Moncrieff's Ralph, the officer who sees the potential for dramatic performance in the convict colony. Matthew Cassettari's Robbie Ross, the bullying Scotsman who opposes the idea. Joe Richards is excellent as Wisehammer, the literate jew; Dominic Short makes a lively Sideway, who's in love with the theatre and seizes the chance to shine. Mary Brenham, subtly drawn by Elizabeth Hutchinson, is the shy girl dragged along to audition by her extrovert friend Dabby [Freya Von-Claire]. Perhaps most poignant of all, the tormented Harry Brewer – a wonderfully compelling performance from Max Purkiss – painfully possessive of his young Duckling, Jennifer Lamb, so moving as she cradles Harry's dying body and confesses her love. And Hazel Ellender is totally convincing as the troublesome Morden, whose death sentence casts a shadow over rehearsals.
But this is an ensemble piece, the carefully devised staging – all of the characters remain in the performance area throughout – providing a frame for the emotional adventures of convicts and Royal Marines in Sydney Cove.