‘Our Country’s Good’ made even better by actors

Valerie Badjan (Aboriginal Australian) and Zack Dicktakis (2nd Lt. Ralph Clark) in OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD by Timberlake Wertenbaker onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre Nov. 30-Dec, 10, 2017.  (Gerry Goodstein/CRT) 

Valerie Badjan (Aboriginal Australian) and Zack Dicktakis (2nd Lt. Ralph Clark) in OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD by Timberlake Wertenbaker onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre Nov. 30-Dec, 10, 2017.  (Gerry Goodstein/CRT) 

Beginning a few minutes before the show was even supposed to start with an eerie melody sung by the play’s convicts, the acting in “Our Country’s Good” never ceased to capture the audience’s attention. Even while changing props around as the scenes shifted, actors were still in character. In scenes where there was a crowd, the dialogue shifted flawlessly from one person to the next, with side conversations happening  simultaneously.  

Centering around the lives of convicts sent to Australia in the 1700s, the play was a little slow at times, but that was quickly overcome by the frequent bursts of humor. As for second-semester acting major Megan Casa Grande, she “liked how committed the actors were, especially with the accents” and also noted she liked the transition from the everyday convicts to broken people. When reading the title of the scene, actors used their normal voices, and it was astonishing to hear the difference.

Bonnie Ryan and Mary Hirsch of Mansfield loved the character of Dabby Bryant, played by Gillian Rae Pardi.  They did note that they wished there was more of a character development of the convicts, though.

There were a few small errors made on the actors’ parts, but they were quickly worked around and the scene was able to proceed flawlessly afterward. Their voices were clear and it was incredible to see the shifts between the characters. Almost all of the actors played two characters, so while it was hard at times to follow, it was still astounding to see the variation. The play was made fantastic by the actors; though the script had hilarity at times, with a lesser cast this performance would not have been nearly as enjoyable.

One of the best characters in the play was, as Ryan and Hirsch noted, Dabby Bryant (played by Gillian Rae Pardi). The fluidity in her movements and facial expressions were matched by her powerful voice, and she fully captured the audience’s attention. Another top pick would be the character Robert Sideway (played by Coleman Churchill). This character also added a ton of humor to the play, but Churchill was also able to transition to serious scenes, such as one where he gets whipped, with a surprising amount of grace.  

The characters of Reverend Johnson (played by Matthew Antoci) and Ketch Freeman (played by James Jelkin) were also memorable. For the reverend, his humor touched upon serious religious issues, and was executed well by the actor. As for Ketch, the deeper nature of the character as a hangman was played out flawlessly, with his unfaltering accent being one of the best parts.

There were a lot of smaller details that stood out as well. The changing background and the visuals associated with it made the shifts that much more clear. The sounds in the background set the atmosphere for each scene and augmented the actors’ performance. Even the clothing made an impact: the characters looked as realistic as the actors were playing them to be.

Overall, this play was phenomenal, but not by the theme as much as by the actors. The performance was made worthwhile because of their dedication to their parts, even when the scenes were finished.


Hannah Desrosiers is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hannah.desrosiers@uconn.edu.