Thursday, 6 August 2015

Review - Three Days In The Country, National Theatre


WATCHING Patrick Marber's adaptation of Ivan Turgenev's play A Month In The Country it's hard to believe the original is more than four hours long.
Three Days In The Country, now on at the National Theatre's Lyttelton stage, is a little over half that at a mere two hours.
And a thoroughly enjoyable and funny piece it is too despite the fact nothing much really happens.
Set in Russia during one summer in the mid 19th century we see a family in some emotional turmoil as a new tutor arrives at the house of rich Russian landowner Arkady and his wife Natalya.
His arrival certainly shakes things up a bit as over the ensuing three days, the people who live, work and visit the house learn lessons in love of all kinds - whether it be forbidden love, the giddy feelings of first love, the pain of unrequited love, platonic love or any of the other kinds of love in between.
Natalya, the wife of rich Russian landowner Arkady, and with whom she has a loveless marriage, has brought in the new tutor, Belyaev, for her son and she has found herself falling in love with him.
This has a massive ripple effect for practically everyone else in the house, from her 17-year-old ward Vera, who also falls for Belyaev, to Rakitin, a frequent visitor to the house and who has spent a lifetime in love with Natalya - despite the fact it was his best friend Arkady who won her heart.
Elsewhere the doctor Shpigeksky who proudly says he is "a maestro of misdiagnosis" attempts to propose to one of the more senior ladies of the house, Lizavetta. This hilarious scene, in which he is suddenly crippled with a bad back, is worth the ticket price alone.
It is a stunning production with a fantastic but simple set in which the actors sit on chairs placed around the outside of the minimalist stage looking in on the action.
The cast too are top notch with Amanda Drew as Natalya tortured by a lust and love that consumes her totally and John Simm as Rakitin who, having been equally tortured by his feelings for her, finally accepts Natalya will never love him.
But the stand out moments are those in which the doctor is in. Played by Mark Gatiss who shows his brilliance as a comic actor, they are a joy to watch.

Three Days In The Country is on at the National Theatre until October 21. Tickets from £15. Visit or call the box office on 020 7452 3000  

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