A Month in the Country | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Month in the Country

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A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY, Bailiwick Repertory. A well-written play by Ivan Turgenev adapted by Irish playwright Brian Friel is sure to reward the viewer alert to subtleties. A slight shift in tone may speak volumes about a hitherto puzzling character. A minor event may be the harbinger of inconsolable heartbreak by the play's end. Such slow-moving plays are especially rewarding when brought to life by a director as careful as Jeremy Wechsler and a cast as capable of playing the finer tones in the script as this one at Bailiwick Repertory.

A Month in the Country introduces us to a houseful of unhappy middle-class Russians. As in a Henry James novel, nothing particularly dramatic happens: a young girl falls in love with a tutor; a married woman contemplates adultery; a feeble, foolish, but wealthy old man plots to marry a younger woman. But between the lines, everything is happening. Lives are shattered, illusions destroyed. Especially poignant is the plight of Vera, a fresh, hopeful young woman (brilliantly realized by Laura Scott Wade) bursting with love for the handsome young tutor (Nathan Vogt, another gem). But through a series of callous, casual betrayals, she's trapped in an empty, loveless marriage.

Even in the hands of an indifferent director and cast, Friel's wise, witty, graceful take on Turgenev would be worth watching. In this terrific production, the play soars. --Jack Helbig

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