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June 14, 2017 | by  | in Theatre |
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Three Days in the Country

I was surprised I could even make it out to the theatre. Exams are looming, the arrows of assignments are firing my way, and I felt a sniffle of a cold coming on. Nevertheless, I found myself sitting at Circa Theatre not knowing what to expect from this play, which was adapted from Ivan Turgenev’s A Month In The Country. The pressures of university were soon forgotten as I found myself caught up in this fantastic play, which succeeded in being both comedic and deeply moving.

Set on a country estate in Russia in the mid-19th century, hearts are broken and love is confessed when a handsome young tutor stirs the hearts of all the women in the household. From that comes an exploration of love in all its forms; from friendship to unrequited love to the burning passion that keeps people awake at night.  

Circa treated me to a simple set, beautiful classical music, and actors who were as engaged in the story as much as I was. It wasn’t long at all until I was pulled, completely, into this world of passion and drama. I guess this is what going to the theatre is all about. I don’t always go there to watch some postmodern masturbation which doesn’t make sense and doesn’t aim to be understood. Sometimes the simple and familiar plays are the most heart-warming.

There are many things to praise about this play. What I appreciated the most was that both the big and small moments were calculated and performed perfectly. Gavin Rutherford’s Rakitin would explode into a barrel of emotion during an intense scene as he confessed his love to the leader of the household, Natalya. His descriptions of love were a strong testament to the enduring power of romanticism. I was struck by the lines he spoke as he warned us not to “succumb to its terrible intensity.” He also mocked our universal behaviour as he cried “here is my heart, please stamp on it again.” Another actor worth a mention is Harriet Prebble, who played a young girl with Little House of on the Prairie innocence. She had the audience in the palm of her hand as she stood up to exclaim, “I know lust, there is a wild feeling inside of me. I know what poetry means.”

We may roll our eyes if we are living in our cynical stage, but it felt real. She pulled it off so well that you couldn’t help but be taken in with this discovery of passionate love. According to the Beatles, it is all we need. It is not just in the epic dramatic moments that the play shined. Moments of humour, witty one-liners, and subtle expressions on actors’ faces brought me further into the story. You know that the play is worth your time when you want to spend more time with all of them after the show is over.

In between study and exams, I highly recommend you go and watch this show. It is entertaining, funny, and moving. It has enough period appeal for Downton Abbey fans and drama for those who like Gossip Girl. It also argues for the authenticity of the emotions that we can brush off as being too sentimental and saccharine. Being honest to ourselves, sometimes other people in our lives affect us so much that we have to stand up in a large crowd to pronounce that we now “know what poetry means” and that “all the love songs make sense.” Love has its problems, and this play doesn’t gloss over the danger of pouring out emotions. Yet it doesn’t shy away from telling us that love is all-consuming, selfish, and motivates all of our thoughts and actions.

 

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