SOULPEPPER PRODUCTION OF
A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY
AND ALWAYS UNFORGETTABLE”
The current Soulpepper production of A Month In the Country is not to be missed. Turgenev’s classic Russian dramedy takes the subtle social comedy of Chekhovian delight and pushes the dramaturgical envelope into intergenerational titillation and high-spirited frolicking in a setting that could be your Kawartha Lakes neighbour’s country cottage or a summer camp for dysfunctional family units.
The contemporary translation by company member Susan Coyne, in collaboration with Hungarian master director Laszlo Marton, may seem awkward at times as it sports clearly Canadian/North American dialogue, and yet, in the hands of a superb cast the frequently formal phrasing and the long Russian names come trippingly from the tongue.
Costumes by Victoria Wallace and sets by Andrei Both support this action packed piece with a summery, causal offhand grace - replete with half a sports car jutting form a multi-doored back wall, working water hoses, heavenly hammocks, skateboards, and a delightfully devilish tire swing.
Fiona Byrne leads a superb ensemble as the complex and carnally induced Natalya. Diego Matmoros delivers a brilliant rendition of the wry and lovelorn Ratikin, while Jeff Lillico’s charismatic young student/tutor/multi-tasking paramour blends a perfect combination of mannerly shyness and youthful exuberance.
Nancy Palk, William Webster, and Joseph Ziegler give standout performances as their brief scenes of romantic misadventure possess an almost tableau-like performance art quality, setting them apart from the rest of the action and rendering the overall mise en scene quirky, complex, and utterly charming.
Too numerous to mention, the entire ensemble provides this timeless script with the complexity of emotion and raw physicality essential to a successful production of a script that could have easily become overly sentimental in the hands of a less physically inclined and sexually invigorated company of artists. On ‘holiday’ in the hands of a playful and dramaturgically proficient director the entire production team basks in the glow of mesmerizing midsummer madness.
Director Laszlo Marton has whipped his cast into a fun filled frenzy as they utilize every square inch of the stage with wild abandon, giving into, what Soulpepper Associate Artist Paula Wing so aptly calls, in her program notes, “the sudden, shocking, fierce experience of love: original, sometimes brutal and always unforgettable.”
A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY RUNS AT THE YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (DISTILLERY DISRTICT