Three Days in the Country at the National Theatre
A spirited young man enlists as a tutor at a wealthy country estate and suddenly all hell breaks loose. Blood boils in the summer heat, suppressed emotions are liberated, old wounds are ripped apart and new wounds gouged open, and all for a moment’s unbridled passion in the grandeur of the country. This is quintessential 19th century Russian literature at its very best. However, Patrick Marber has made this Turgenev classic so much more than just tragic beauty and elegant disgrace.
The year, the place and the company are left untouched from the 1850 original, One Month in the Country, but there are quips in the dialect that have a discernible nod towards the 21st century, making this production a champion of modern theatre. One-liners pepper the script like nuggets in a goldmine, and there are brilliantly funny sections of dialogue that are so downright foolish, they can only be British.
Nonetheless, the glamour and the hysterics of a lingering feudalist lifestyle are all there. Amanda Drew gives a magnificently haughty yet emotionally delicate performance as Natalya Petrovna, while John Simm perfectly executes the outward blasé attitude and inward emotional torment of Rakitin. The level of acting offered in this performance is outstanding, and the design of the entire production – particularly the staging – is subtle yet incredibly precise. Altogether, this is such a tightly woven, delicate and yet ballsy play, it runs like golden thread braided through glass.
This is essentially rom-com at its best. A play that tickles the gates of dreamy romanticism before being yanked sharply back down to earth by a terrifically cutting jibe. Humour doesn’t get quicker, or easier. Patrick Marber is currently filling the echoing halls of the National Theatre with top-class, tightly honed drama, and it’s a moment of London’s theatre that should not be missed.
Three Days in the Country is on at the National Theatre from 27th July until 21st October 2015, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch interviews with the cast here: