The Country

Wed 12th – Sat 15th October 2011


John Kesidis

at 00:35 on 15th Oct 2011



Martin Crimp's ''The Country'' is a demanding, intense and shockingly accurate piece of theatrical ingenuity. Although the complex plot, the fast paced dialogues and the tense and almost menacing atmosphere can prove to be a challenge even for the most experienced of actors, the cast managed to perform wonderfully indeed.

A veil of mystery covers everything in this somewhat peculiar story of love and hatred, leaving most of the background to the imagination of the audience and revealing very few of the multitude of questions we desperately needed answered...

Even though at the beginning the acting lacked a bit of confidence the actors quickly recovered and gave an unforgettable performance. Some minor problems and inconsistencies did occur but acting was, as a whole, excellent. Alex Woolf had a stunning performance, portraying the troubled-by-guilt figure of Doctor Richard who is trying to save his marriage with his overtly sentimental and neurotic wife Corrinne - portrayed splendidly by Eleanor Henderson. Claudia Jolly, in her role as Rebecca gave a real display of talent as the playful - but at the same time tough as nails - scandalous lover of the esteemed doctor. The characters seem to interchange roles several times, over and over again, sometimes taking the role of the victim only to become a moment later the persecutor putting their counterpart in a defensive position. In this context it is really difficult to choose with which one of the three to side with as the interactions are so complex and the hidden truth is slowly revealed. The dialogues resemble a game of strategic manoeuvres, tactical retreats and bold offensive moves as the personalities of the three battle in this game of lies and mystery. Another noticeable feature of this play, and one very well delivered by the cast, is the constant change of moods and feelings: from light and humorous intervals and a seemingly idyllic atmosphere, the audience is dragged violently back and forth to the grim and unforgiving environment of a family that is on the brink of collapsing, a hostile place, full of bitterness and anger. Directors Katie Pesskin and Nick Finegan did an excellent work on smoothing the final outcome out and really helped to enhance the performance of the actors through effective directorial guidance. The scenery was appropriate for this play and clever use of light much enhanced our experience. In conclusion, intense moments, impeccable acting and immersing scenery (in conjunction with the size of the ''Little Black Box'') resulted in a memorable experience...Jabberwocky Productions you just got another fan!


Jessica Reid

at 03:47 on 15th Oct 2011



'The Country' is an ambitious piece of theatre but a good one. The three actors each give their all in their gripping portrayal of the clashing and multi-faceted characters. The stage of the tiny theatre is so stuffed with furniture that the intimacy becomes claustrophobic, much like the marriage of Richard and Corrinne in the opening act. The props and scenery all had a peculiar significance but the resonance given to the intrusive telephone was particularly noticeable. Five dead sunflowers lined the back wall, upside down and rootless, presumably dying. Symbolic much?

Richard (Alex Woolf) is a man who thought he could have it all – a perfect family, an honourable career, a younger mistress and a secret heroin addiction. The play focuses on the ripples which ensue after the chapters of his life collide. Corrinne (Eleanor Henderson) is his devoted wife and mother of his children, with a strong sense of propriety. She is watching her life collapse and desperately attempting to save it. Rebecca (Claudia Jolly) is the catalyst, an angry young woman, bent on destruction. If anything is at fault it is Martin Crimp’s script. The script is obsessed with ideas (tradition, respectability, youth, countryside versus city life…) and very little actually happens. The text is poetic and rather beautiful but often unrealistic. However, the play is full of tension and totally absorbing. The power struggles do not get old as new elements are constantly added to the mix. My sympathy which was first aligned with Corrinne (Henderson) became less pronounced as I began to find all the characters quite distasteful: I witnessed their subtle attacks, cruel manipulations of each other and listened to the thoughts they were neglecting to voice. It was a play of silence and hidden aggression.

Woolf’s Richard was interesting in his stiff, aloof persona at the start of the piece which completely evolved when around Rebecca (Jolly), becoming tactile, passionate and vulnerable but eventually showing a guilt-fuelled false affection towards Corrinne (Henderson). His facial expressions during Corrinne’s final speech were mesmerising – too late he realised how powerless a position he was in. Corrinne (Henderson) began highly-strung, jittery and stifled but as her understanding grew she developed into a strong although slightly broken woman. Although she wasn’t always holding her scissors, she successfully snipped away at her husband’s deceit. At times Henderson was too obviously ‘acting’ yet she tended to be the performer with the most stage presence. As for Rebecca (Jolly), she may have had less stage time but in it she showed an enormous range in her personality, from cruel to vengeful to sensual to triumphant. The volatility of her emotions was particularly captivating and her accent never faltered.

These character developments drove the play. There were several extremely powerful moments particularly between Richard and Rebecca and also Rebecca and Corrinne – the three characters were never united. Though discovering the truth appeared to be the aim, ‘fear’ was an overriding force. They were terrified of everything, especially each other. As the series of events and betrayals were exposed, it was riveting seeing how these people would respond. The play was always toying with the differences between love and responsibility; just as the plot’s superficial repetition was never entirely honest, neither were the characters.


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