This week saw the climax of months of hard work as the girls performed the school production of the classic A-level text, Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker.
All the girls were outstanding on both nights and we must congratulate them all, as well as Mrs Larder and Mrs Band, who have been working flat out since September to bring this challenging, topical and thought provoking play to life.
The play shows the regenerative power of drama as a group of convicts sent to Australia are told to stage a play - based on a true story the play presents a humane, moving and very funny account of the first theatrical production to be staged in Australia’s new colony.
The girls certainly did the play justice and will most certainly be ready for the Easter break!
Headmistress Mrs Keville had this to say: "This week's Epic and Ensemble performances of 'Our Country's Good' were without doubt a real highlight of the term. The hard work from all involved certainly paid off; the girls’ performances were hard-hitting and powerful with very strong characterisation and the production team did a fabulous job. I feel blessed to lead a school where there is an abundance of such talent and seeing the girls work so well together was wonderful. Mrs Wallace-Woodroffe was also very impressed! We were all left in no doubt about just how significant the impact of theatre can be."
A review of the play from Mrs Spillane (parent)
Some might question if a girls’ school in Chester could tackle such a hard-hitting play as Our Country’s Good. An A-level set text, this is a tough, realistic and at times brutal piece of theatre. All questions were put to one side as soon as the action began however; the girls rose to the challenge and showed maturity and sophistication with their subtle characterisations.
Set in an 18th-century Australian prison colony, the play explores a British officer’s attempts to put on a production of George Farquahar’s The Recruiting Officer, with the characters played by a group of convicts. The play’s central message is the transformative power of art and that the convicts’ lives might be positively changed by their participation in the play.
The staging was simple yet effective, and the use of a thrust stage ensured that the audience were fully immersed in the difficult subject matter. Welcome comedic interludes were expertly provided by Felicity Hudson as Sideway, Melody Lewis as Dabby and Anna Bowler as Liz Morden contrasting with the malicious Robbie Ross, played by Scarlett Spillane and the naïve innocence of Franny Davidson as Ralph and Bella Band as Mary.
Of particular note was the able handling of the relationship between Harry Brewer (Sophie Garnell) and Duckling Smith (Jobi Chan) in which the stark reality of the convicts’ new lives is laid bare.
The play was at times shocking, troubling, humorous and unsettling; everything that good drama should be. Directed by drama teacher, Jo Band and assisted by Head of Department Katharine Larder this brave and ambitious production demonstrated that both the Drama Department and the girls at Queen’s are more than capable of handling whatever they set their minds to.