Mentors Co-op Project

The Country
by Martin Crimp

Date22 February - 6 March Venue Performance Works, Granville Island

Reviewer Jane Penistan


 

Director Tom Kerr Set design Abraham Jedidiah Costume Valerie Dearden Lighting Michael Scriven Sound Adam Henderson Stage Manager Vicki Rose

 

 


The Country Graphic

The Roman poet Virgil extolled the virtues of rural living, but there is no confirmation that he enjoyed rustication. He did point out that those who migrated to the country brought their problems with them. Centuries later the youthful Alexander Pope, in England, wrote"Happy the man whose wish and care / A few paternal acres bound / Content to breathe his native air / In his own ground." Yet Pope became a city-dweller. In his perspicacious play The Country, Martin Crimp looks at the contemporary myth that life in the English countryside is happier, healthier, and safer for families than city life.

The country house to which Richard and Corinne have moved to is a converted granary. Once a place of security against winter famine, it is now a safe haven for the couple and their children. But rats invade granaries ,and now doubt and distrust insidiously creep into the unity of the home.

An unknown American woman, Rebecca, arrives from nowhere. Or is she unknown? Uncertainty has insinuated itself into this once secure domesticity. There is not only a clash of cultures, but some surprises in the difference in education of the two women. The American is apparently a sophisticated academic, while Corinne is a comfortable, unquestioning housewife. Demanding, demonstrative, and cruel Rebecca sows the seeds of suspicion and mistrust into Richard and Corinne's bucolic existence.

While Corinne seeks peace and assurance in the solitude of the English countryside, Richard is engaged in the unpredictable demands of a country doctor's practice. The reflection in Corinne's driving-mirror shows her the double reflection of her house and the countryside. She is the centre of this double image, enclosed in it but not protected by it. Rebecca pointedly endeavours to seduce Richard in the sanctity of his own living room.

 

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The three disparate characters are Corinne, beautifully played by Gabrielle Rose; Richard, enigmatic and humourous, by Eric Schneider; and the sharp and mysterious Rebecca by Nicole Leroux.

The dialogue in this play is full of hidden innuendo and double meaning. Behind those smiling faces what thoughts are chasing through those nimble minds? There is symbolism, surrealism, humour, viciousness, desire, and good and evil in this complex critical script. The lines are delivered intelligently, never over stressed, and always well timed, with appropriate pregnant pauses.

Tom Kerr directs with unerring insight and understanding. He and his cast and crew are in perfect harmony. Adam Henderson's bridging music is well suited to the script. Abraham Jedidiah's set is economical but totally right. Like the dialogue and acting, it is spare, but still has all that is necessary with no extraneous decoration and is consistently well lit by Michael Scriven.

The Country leaves as many doubts and uncertainties as it promulgates. Is transplanting urbanites to the country really all it's supposed to be? Is life anywhere predictable and safe? The Country provides questions and arguments, but no solutions.

The proceeds from this brilliant, unusual, and thought-provoking production are being donated to PALS, a truly noble gesture from this exceptionally talented company, Mentors Coop.

2005 Jane Penistan

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