A Month In The Country
November 11, 2005
By Victor Gluck
For Theater Ten Ten, which specializes in the classics, director David Scott has staged an elegant, stylish revival of Ivan Turgenev's Russian comedy of boredom in the provinces, A Month in the Country. Perfectly cast, the production moves with great animation and verve, not something usually associated with Russian plays. The fact that it uses an intimate space that puts the audience in extreme proximity to the actors makes the success of this five-act play even more remarkable. Scott and his actors are not entirely comfortable with the long monologues, but this is a small flaw in such an attractive package.
Set in 1840 on the estate of Natalya Petrovna and her husband, Arkady, the play brings together a number of guests and family members whom the bored Natalya attempts to manipulate: She flirts shamelessly with family friend Rakitin, who is in love with her; tries to arrange a marriage for her ward, Vera; and attempts a flirtation with her son's inexperienced 20-year-old tutor, Alexey. When her husband and mother-in-law find her in tears with Rakitin, it all threatens to turn serious. However, an ironic series of culminating events gives fate the final laugh.
As the heroine, the beautiful Annalisa Loeffler might be younger than Natalya is usually played, but she is every bit up to the challenge. She flirts, charms, emotes, and shifts gears with remarkable vivaciousness. That she is convincing in all of these moods is to her credit. As the young man for whom she imagines a passion, Timothy McDonough has a refreshing boyishness that makes his immature Alexey totally believable.
Several of the character portrayals make indelible impressions. Ron Sanborn's amusingly pompous Dr. Shpigelsky, Greg Oliver Bodine's elegant Rakitin, and Lisa Riegel's nuanaced Lizaveta are delightful comic creations. The beautiful period costumes from Jeanette Aultz Look add authentic 19th-century atmosphere.