Stars of two hit TV series headline the company of the latest offering from Off-Broadway's Classic Stage Company. NY1's Roma Torre filed this review of "A Month in the Country" starring Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling.
Years before Anton Chekhov made us think boredom is Russia's national pastime, there was Ivan Turgenev, writing about those very same indolent upper classes. His play "A Month In The Country" could easily be mistaken for a Chekhov work, but it's richly rewarding in its own right. Thanks to the Classic Stage Company's wonderfully vibrant production, this 165 year old dramedy stands the test of time.
TV watchers will be especially thrilled to see "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling of "Orange Is The New Black" in the flesh. The two lead a terrific cast of 13, each of whom stand out in roles that refreshingly defy stereotype. Turgenev's writing is deep without ever becoming pedantic, and when it comes to the fickle nature of the heart, he is a master.
The action takes place in a Russian country estate. Schilling plays Natalya, the mistress of the house. And Dinklage is family friend Rakitin whose great love for Natalya is unrequited. We also meet assorted family members, servants and hangers-on. However, the action mostly centers on Natalya's infatuation with her son's new tutor Aleksey and the repercussions of her blinding crush on the young man.
The translation by John Christopher Jones is excellent, injecting a contemporary dynamic while maintaining the period sensibility. Director Erica Schmidt picks up on the emotional cues finessing both the play's high comedy and heart-breaking lows.
Thomas Jay Ryan as the deceptively doltish doctor is especially fun. Fans of the stars will recognize some distinctive traits from TV, but they are clearly displaying some fine stage chops. As the flirtatious Natalya, Schilling is alluringly radiant and Dinklage adds great dimension as a chronically smitten depressive.
There is much to savor in this revival, and like the better known Chekhov plays, boredom was never so entertaining.