The Country: Alma Tavern Theatre
Friday 11th July 2008

This is a Crackerjack review of The Country.
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Crackerjack rating: 8 / 10.

Ever held your breath for a whole hour?

Try it – I challenge you – at the Alma Tavern Theatre, where Martin Crimp’s masterly play The Country is currently unleashing a torrent of lust, lies and unremitting tension on white-knuckled audiences.

The acclaimed Milagro theatre company tells a thumping anti-pastoral tale of how one family’s quiet country life is shattered when the past, symbolically rooted in an unnamed city, collides fatefully with the present in a salutary parable of how, beneath every silver lining, lurks a gigantic thundercloud.

The Country is a sinister triumph. There’s no interval, no distracting set-changes - nothing but a nervy couple, GP Richard and his wife Corinne, whose lives implode when a supersized skeleton crashes out of Richard’s closet. He stumbles, in the dead of one black night, into the home he shares with Corinne and their two children, with an unconscious young woman sprawled in his arms. Is she dead? Or merely dead drunk? Their rural idyll, a sort of Virgilian pastoral gone awry, unravels with horrifying speed.

Praise must be heaped on a tight-knit cast which depicts characters’ increasingly desperate and opaque actions with subtlety and flair.

The utterly convincing Chris Donnelly, as Richard, deftly provides light relief with his delightful undertow of sharp wit.

Dee Sadler, as Corinne, is his perfect foil and gracious to a fault towards lissom interloper Rebecca, from whom pours equal doses of poison and misery and played with frankly terrifying viciousness by Rosanna Marks.

This unsettling look at how the Good Life turns rotten pits pastoral myth against human nature with breathtaking audacity.

Be warned: do not make that move to the country.

Sophie Lomax