Ramps On The Moon speak volumes with their ability to make the powerful drama Our Country’s Good accessible to D/deaf and disabled theatre lovers whilst still maintaining the standard of a mainstream production. Fiona Buffini’s direction cleverly embellished the action with British Sign Language throughout, and the wonderfully diverse cast, including D/deaf and disabled actors, was extremely emotive in both their vocal and physical expressions.
The energised and captivating sign language is performed by either the speaking actor themselves or by another character in the scene (which takes a minute or two to grasp, yet the complexity certainly adds a creative dynamic). For an audience member who does not know the meaning of the gestures (like myself) it is not a hindrance, but instead a fascinating extension on the actors’ expression (and an impressive one at that).
This uplifting story, in which a play helps the officers and prisoners to release the chains of judgement and regain their sense of humanity, is not to be missed. The show holds a strong structure and does not include any unnecessary spectacles (no ground breaking over rehearsed cheesy-ness), instead the story is allowed to blossom organically and the text has the focus it deserves.
Although this production is impressively unique, it is not flawless. The opening is slow, with the movement of the chorus of prisoners being perhaps too improvised and slightly aimless. Transitions are of a simple nature and often bring the audience out of the world, however it would not be long til they are again drawn in by the following scene. Officer Ralph, eager to direct the cast of prisoners, is played by the slightly hammy Tim Pritchett. His love for the gentle prisoner Mary Brenham, played by Sapphire Joy with a perfectly shy demeanour, and her love for him is not well established, causing their affair to seem sudden and fake, whereas the relation between Mary and John Wiserhammer, who is brilliantly portrayed by Tom Dawz is beautifully honest and moving for the audience.
Filled with moments of suspense, comedy, heartbreak and hope Ramps on the Moon have brought us tears and laughter with this original production Our Country’s Good and prove, yet again, how inclusive theatre can and should be.
Review written by Lauren Maxwell.
Our Country’s Good is currently showing until Saturday 5th May 2018 at the Stratford East Theatre Royal. To find out more about the production, visit here…
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