Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Month in the Country

Talk about an anticlimax.

First there is the announcement: Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling (aka, "The woman from Orange is the New Black") in Turgenev's A Month in the Country at CSC. Having seen Dinklage as Richard III, I immediately move this to my "must-see" list. One problem, though: between Dinklage's Game of Thrones's fame and Schilling's Orange/Black fame, the demand for tickets slikely to be immense. Also, what kind of seats will be available once single tickets go on sale?

And then comes the news that CSC has almost sold out its subscriptions and memberships. My friends and I make the decision, and nab three just before they run out.

I'll spare you the work it takes for my friends and I to come up with dates that work for all three of us, but think D-Day, albeit on a considerably less important level.

And then the subscriber tickets became available, with the competition to get good seats. Criterion 1: must be in the center section. Criterion 2 (optional but important): it would be nice if we could have some leg room, since one of us has a bum knee.

Success: A101-A103.

Then the day comes!

And we discover that the CSC has added two rows to the side section near us, so that A101 and A102 actually face audience profiles rather than the stage! And then the usher warns us that there are exits and entrances near us. This is usual, even fun. However, with the extra side rows, there is very little clearance.

So picture, if you will, three women twisted sideways, with their legs tucked tightly under their seats. And not happy about it.

But we're in the theatre. We've got Peter Dinklage, Anthony Edwards, Elizabeth Franz, and Annabella Sciorra to distract us from our discomfort. And, hey, Schilling is good on Orange/Black. Maybe she can pull off a period piece.

And it starts. And it is lame. Schilling as Natalya couldn't be less appropriate to mid-19th-century Russia if she were chatting on an iPhone. The translation is lackluster and fails to find a comfortable mix of formal and colloquial. The pacing is slow and awkward. Mike Faist, as the young tutor Natalya loves, and Megan West as her ward, also in love with the tutor, are too contemporary for their parts and not exactly compelling. Ian Etheridge, as Natalya's son, is totally unintelligible.

In many scenes, Franz and Sciorra, relegated to small roles, are in the background, their very presence reminding us what good period acting can look like.

Dinklage is excellent. But even he isn't enough to get us to put up with our discomfort and frequent boredom and stay for the second act.

Anticlimax, indeed.

(first row center, audience right, membership price)

No comments: