by Paula Citron
Irish playwright Brian Friel’s adaptation of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country swings wildly between farce and melodrama. This disjointed theatrical experience causes Irish humour and Russian melancholia to collide together to the detriment of both. The staging by Polish director Tadeusz Bradecki is so agitated and restless that it is distracting.
This production, however, contains some magnificent acting that alone is worth the price of admission.
At the heart of the story is the beautiful, bored and intelligent Natalya played by Fiona Byrne. Natalya is married to a weak man and surrounded by fools. She falls in love with her son’s young tutor because he represents the sense of adventure that she craves. Byrne’s manipulative Natalya is a seductive combination of a snapping turtle and a prowling panther.
Other outstanding performances come from David Jansen, Ric Reid, Patricia Hamilton and Sharry Flett.
A Month in the Country continues until Oct. 6.
From the Shaw Festival’s Court House Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.