Saturday, June 24, 2017

Three Days In The Country

Another week, another excursion to the theatre. This time we’re off to see something serious…

Three Days In The Country is a new adaptation by Patrick Marber – best known for Closer – based on Turgenev’s classic A Month In The Country. I assume you’re all familiar with this? No? Me neither. However it is described as being Chekhovian, despite being written some 40 years before Chekhov hit his stride.

Years ago, we visited Two Souls Bistro on Wakefield Street. It was reasonably good, but uninspiring, standard bistro fare. Unsurprisingly, with the way that the Wellington food scene has moved on, it’s fallen somewhat out of favour, and closed last year. The site has now reopened as Vee N Zed, a New Zealand/Vietnamese fusion restaurant. As is so often the case with new restaurants, there’s a special offer on GrabOne to try and entice people into their new place. We were duly enticed – helped by a fairly positive write-up from David Burton a couple of weeks ago.

Whilst it calls itself a fusion restaurant, the two cuisines rarely meet – there’s either Kiwi classics or Vietnamese food on offer. Since its opening they seem to have largely ditched the Kiwi in favour of the Vietnam, and now only two fundamentally Kiwi dishes remain. As these were specifically excluded by our GrabOne deal, I ignored them, and instead had a reasonably good Vietnamese meal. They were prompt about dishing it up, too, which suited our purpose admirably. We were able to nonchalantly stroll up the road to Circa Theatre in time for the play to begin.

Three Days In the Country may have had its title shortened from A Month… but that doesn’t seem to have shortened the play. This is presumably part of the reason for the early start. Unlike most productions in Wellington, this one has a full cast of 14 characters, so at first it was a little confusing trying to determine who was who in relation to the main characters. It soon became clear, though. The casting included a number of Wellington favourites who we’ve seen in many a production over the years – I guess the number of actors able and willing to make a living from stage acting in Wellington is not high. Unlike the UK, New Zealand doesn’t have the critical mass to support a celebrity culture of soap stars, TV actors and the like to boost the popularity of shows. Nor do shows hang around in the style of the West End – they’re put on for a month at the most. Gavin Rutherford, Andrew Paterson and Harriet Prebble are all mainstays of Wellington theatre.

The play follows the relationships of the Islaev family and household in the Russian countryside. Everyone, it seems, is in love with the wrong person and (spoiler alert) it ends badly for most of them. As Patrick Marber put it, "not much happens but everything happens". It was all expertly done and thoroughly enjoyable. 

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