Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Country - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
The Pleasance, London
Was Peen keen?

‘The more you speak, the less you say’ seems like a suitable description for the cast of this production. The rest of the play is as beautifully written by Martin Crimp, deservingly regarded a national treasure – the actors just don’t play it quite right.

We sit and watch the living room of Corinne and Richard. They’re clearly not poor, because they have flowers hanging from their ceiling… upside down. It’s obvious from the first interaction that this is supposed to be a failing relationship; their distant behaviour towards one another seems all too ‘normal’, making it hard to believe they were one day in love. Eleanor Henderson as Corinne has stunning potential as she embodies stage presence and is a delight to watch. The direction and portrayal of her character is beautiful; the rhythm and tone of dialogue is nothing short of irritating past the five-minute mark. Alex Woolf as Richard spends the majority of the production wide-eyed and blank and even occasionally stumbles over the language.
            Claudia Jolly, however, saves the day. Not only does her character (Rebecca) bring so much more to the play, but it is also delivered brilliantly; the contrast between rich and poor when Rebecca and Corinne finally meet is admirable. The final scene starts to evoke a little emotion; it is filled with unnecessary and ineffective shouting, but luckily it’s counter balanced by a warming monologue from Corinne, bringing the production to its inevitable close: anti-climatic.

The play makes us question whether Richard is a drug-abusing cheat, or Rebecca a lying intruder. No audience member leaves having come to the same conclusion or asking the same questions and the line between honesty and deceit is positively blurred. Unfortunately, the acting pays little contribution to this and isn’t quite appropriately married to Crimp’s writing. Cue the frustrated sigh on departure of a cosy theatre where nap time seems likely. 

This review was originally written for A Younger Theatre.

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