A Month in the Country Not Always a Vacation

A Month in the Country Not Always a Vacation
Russian drama requires some effort from American audiences. We must distinguish the Kolyas from the Katyas, the Alexseys from the Arkadys, and then we need to adapt to political and family systems that were in place at the time. Most Russian drama performed here is from Chekhov, but Ross Valley Players’ new production is pre-Chekhovian, “A Month in the Country” by Ivan Turgenev. Its Russian gloom has been brightened by an adaptation from Irish playwright Brian Friel and by lively direction from James Nelson.
First, the audience is warned that cossacks will be on hand to enforce the no cell phone rules, and then the garden wall opens to reveal a comfortably-furnished country estate with a card game going on in the background. The game is being made more difficult by the German tutor’s language struggles. When Herr Schaaf accuses his partners of “stealing the cat,” they stop and correct him: “the kitty.”
Natalya, the lady of the house, lounges on a nearby sofa, wheedling a long-time admirer to read to her and whining how sick she is of these “gloomy, airless rooms, just like those of the lace makers.” Michel, the admirer, clearly adores her, though it’s hard to see why.
Residents and visitors come and go with other complaints and needs. Natalya’s husband Arkady Islayev bursts in, full of enthusiasm for his new winnowing machine, but explaining to all who will listen about the need to supervise Russian workmen. Two household servants, Matvey and Katya, continue their disagreement about Matvey’s marriage proposal and whether or not he’s too old for her.
Anna, Arkady’s dignified mother lives here on the estate, and so does Lizaveta, a snuff-sniffing companion. Neither of them seems to have much to do, other than maintain the status quo.
A new member has recently joined the household: Alexsay, another tutor for the Islayevs’ son. Natalya is besotted with the handsome young man. The possibility of forbidden romance relieves her boredom, though he’s only twenty-one , and she’s twenty-nine. However, an attractive seventeen-year-old girl is also on the premises, a foster daughter named Vera, and she’s interested in Alexsey as well. Seeing Natalya’s distress, Dr. Shpigelsky says he’s found a perfect husband for Vera. It will turn out that the suitor is a rich neighbor, fifty-seven years old. This suggestion brings on more conflict. And when Natalya’s husband becomes dimly aware of Michel’s infatuation with his wife, he comes up with an astonishing way to keep everybody happy. Who will stay here? Who will go?
Director James Nelson sees Turgenev’s play as “the destructive and incendiary nature of desire,” with each character involved in “a web of romantic pursuit” that contrasts with their polite and ordered setting.
Ken Rowland designed the set for them, a garden and interior suitable for country gentility. Michael A. Berg fashioned costumes for the different social classes of the 1840’s.
Shannon Veon Kase has the difficult role of Natalya, petulant, spoiled and sometimes shrill in her discontent. Her devoted Michel, subtly played by Ben Ortega, seems genuinely lovable, though unloved. Tom Hudgens portrays Arkady, the tradition-bound husband, with natural authority, while Wood Lockhart depicts Dr. Shpiegelsky’s self-awareness and good humor.
Zach Stewart plays the appealing tutor, Alexsey, and Emily Ludlow is talented young Vera. The arguing servants, Matvey and Katya, are acted by Johnny DeBernard and Jocelyn Roddie. Robyn Wiley is the snuff-addicted Lizaveta, and Kim Bromley is the estate’s distinguished owner, Anna. The outsider, Herr Schaaf, is given a humorous turn by Mark Shepard, with Frederick Lein as the unwelcome suitor, Bolshintsov.
“A Month in the Country” will be at the Barn Theatre in the Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross, Thursdays through through Sunday April 12. Thursday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
(NOTE: There will be both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances on Saturday, April 11.
Ticket prices range from $14 to $29. For complete information, call 415-456-9555 or see www.rossvalleyplayer.com

up with an astonishing way to keep everybody happy. Who will stay here? Who will go?
Director James Nelson sees Turgenev’s play as “the destructive and incendiary nature of desire,” with each character involved in “a web of romantic pursuit” that contrasts with their polite and ordered setting.
Ken Rowland designed the set for them, a garden and interior suitable for country gentility. Michael A. Berg fashioned costumes for the different social classes of the 1840’s.
Shannon Veon Kase has the difficult role of Natalya, petulant, spoiled and sometimes shrill in her discontent. Her devoted Michel, subtly played by Ben Ortega, seems genuinely lovable, though unloved. Tom Hudgens portrays Arkady, the tradition-bound husband, with natural authority, while Wood Lockhart depicts Dr. Shpiegelsky’s self-awareness and good humor.
Zach Stewart plays the appealing tutor, Alexsey, and Emily Ludlow is talented young Vera. The arguing servants, Matvey and Katya, are acted by Johnny DeBernard and Jocelyn Roddie. Robyn Wiley is the snuff-addicted Lizaveta, and Kim Bromley is the estate’s distinguished owner, Anna. The outsider, Herr Schaaf, is given a humorous turn by Mark Shepard, with Frederick Lein as the unwelcome suitor, Bolshintsov.
“A Month in the Country” will be at the Barn Theatre in the Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross, Thursdays through through Sunday April 12. Thursday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
(NOTE: There will be both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances on Saturday, April 11.
Ticket prices range from $14 to $29. For complete information, call 415-456-9555 or see www.rossvalleyplayers.com

Vera. The arguing servants, Matvey and Katya, are acted by Johnny DeBernard and Jocelyn Roddie. Robyn Wiley is the snuff-addicted Lizaveta, and Kim Bromley is the estate’s distinguished owner, Anna. The outsider, Herr Schaaf, is given a humorous turn by Mark Shepard, with Frederick Lein as the unwelcome suitor, Bolshintsov.
“A Month in the Country” will be at the Barn Theatre in the Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross, Thursdays through through Sunday April 12. Thursday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
(NOTE: There will be both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances on Saturday, April 11.
Ticket prices range from $14 to $29. For complete information, call 415-456-9555 or see www.rossvalleyplayers.com

670 words By ROSINE REYNOLDS

A Month in the Country Not Always a Vacation
Russian drama requires some effort from American audiences. We must distinguish the Kolyas from the Katyas, the Alexseys from the Arkadys, and then we need to adapt to political and family systems that were in place at the time. Most Russian drama performed here is from Chekhov, but Ross Valley Players’ new production is pre-Chekhovian, “A Month in the Country” by Ivan Turgenev. Its Russian gloom has been brightened by an adaptation from Irish playwright Brian Friel and by lively direction from James Nelson.
First, the audience is warned that cossacks will be on hand to enforce the no cell phone rules, and then the garden wall opens to reveal a comfortably-furnished country estate with a card game going on in the background. The game is being made more difficult by the German tutor’s language struggles. When Herr Schaaf accuses his partners of “stealing the cat,” they stop and correct him: “the kitty.”
Natalya, the lady of the house, lounges on a nearby sofa, wheedling a long-time admirer to read to her and whining how sick she is of these “gloomy, airless rooms, just like those of the lace makers.” Michel, the admirer, clearly adores her, though it’s hard to see why.
Residents and visitors come and go with other complaints and needs. Natalya’s husband Arkady Islayev bursts in, full of enthusiasm for his new winnowing machine, but explaining to all who will listen about the need to supervise Russian workmen. Two household servants, Matvey and Katya, continue their disagreement about Matvey’s marriage proposal and whether or not he’s too old for her.
Anna, Arkady’s dignified mother lives here on the estate, and so does Lizaveta, a snuff-sniffing companion. Neither of them seems to have much to do, other than maintain the status quo.
A new member has recently joined the household: Alexsay, another tutor for the Islayevs’ son. Natalya is besotted with the handsome young man. The possibility of forbidden romance relieves her boredom, though he’s only twenty-one , and she’s twenty-nine. However, an attractive seventeen-year-old girl is also on the premises, a foster daughter named Vera, and she’s interested in Alexsey as well. Seeing Natalya’s distress, Dr. Shpigelsky says he’s found a perfect husband for Vera. It will turn out that the suitor is a rich neighbor, fifty-seven years old. This suggestion brings on more conflict. And when Natalya’s husband becomes dimly aware of Michel’s infatuation with his wife, he comes up with an astonishing way to keep everybody happy. Who will stay here? Who will go?
Director James Nelson sees Turgenev’s play as “the destructive and incendiary nature of desire,” with each character involved in “a web of romantic pursuit” that contrasts with their polite and ordered setting.
Ken Rowland designed the set for them, a garden and interior suitable for country gentility. Michael A. Berg fashioned costumes for the different social classes of the 1840’s.
Shannon Veon Kase has the difficult role of Natalya, petulant, spoiled and sometimes shrill in her discontent. Her devoted Michel, subtly played by Ben Ortega, seems genuinely lovable, though unloved. Tom Hudgens portrays Arkady, the tradition-bound husband, with natural authority, while Wood Lockhart depicts Dr. Shpiegelsky’s self-awareness and good humor.
Zach Stewart plays the appealing tutor, Alexsey, and Emily Ludlow is talented young Vera. The arguing servants, Matvey and Katya, are acted by Johnny DeBernard and Jocelyn Roddie. Robyn Wiley is the snuff-addicted Lizaveta, and Kim Bromley is the estate’s distinguished owner, Anna. The outsider, Herr Schaaf, is given a humorous turn by Mark Shepard, with Frederick Lein as the unwelcome suitor, Bolshintsov.
“A Month in the Country” will be at the Barn Theatre in the Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross, Thursdays through through Sunday April 12. Thursday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
(NOTE: There will be both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances on Saturday, April 11.
Ticket prices range from $14 to $29. For complete information, call 415-456-9555 or see www.rossvalleyplayer.com

670 words By ROSINE REYNOLDS

A Month in the Country Not Always a Vacation
Russian drama requires some effort from American audiences. We must distinguish the Kolyas from the Katyas, the Alexseys from the Arkadys, and then we need to adapt to political and family systems that were in place at the time. Most Russian drama performed here is from Chekhov, but Ross Valley Players’ new production is pre-Chekhovian, “A Month in the Country” by Ivan Turgenev. Its Russian gloom has been brightened by an adaptation from Irish playwright Brian Friel and by lively direction from James Nelson.
First, the audience is warned that cossacks will be on hand to enforce the no cell phone rules, and then the garden wall opens to reveal a comfortably-furnished country estate with a card game going on in the background. The game is being made more difficult by the German tutor’s language struggles. When Herr Schaaf accuses his partners of “stealing the cat,” they stop and correct him: “the kitty.”
Natalya, the lady of the house, lounges on a nearby sofa, wheedling a long-time admirer to read to her and whining how sick she is of these “gloomy, airless rooms, just like those of the lace makers.” Michel, the admirer, clearly adores her, though it’s hard to see why.
Residents and visitors come and go with other complaints and needs. Natalya’s husband Arkady Islayev bursts in, full of enthusiasm for his new winnowing machine, but explaining to all who will listen about the need to supervise Russian workmen. Two household servants, Matvey and Katya, continue their disagreement about Matvey’s marriage proposal and whether or not he’s too old for her.
Anna, Arkady’s dignified mother lives here on the estate, and so does Lizaveta, a snuff-sniffing companion. Neither of them seems to have much to do, other than maintain the status quo.
A new member has recently joined the household: Alexsay, another tutor for the Islayevs’ son. Natalya is besotted with the handsome young man. The possibility of forbidden romance relieves her boredom, though he’s only twenty-one , and she’s twenty-nine. However, an attractive seventeen-year-old girl is also on the premises, a foster daughter named Vera, and she’s interested in Alexsey as well. Seeing Natalya’s distress, Dr. Shpigelsky says he’s found a perfect husband for Vera. It will turn out that the suitor is a rich neighbor, fifty-seven years old. This suggestion brings on more conflict. And when Natalya’s husband becomes dimly aware of Michel’s infatuation with his wife, he comes up with an astonishing way to keep everybody happy. Who will stay here? Who will go?
Director James Nelson sees Turgenev’s play as “the destructive and incendiary nature of desire,” with each character involved in “a web of romantic pursuit” that contrasts with their polite and ordered setting.
Ken Rowland designed the set for them, a garden and interior suitable for country gentility. Michael A. Berg fashioned costumes for the different social classes of the 1840’s.
Shannon Veon Kase has the difficult role of Natalya, petulant, spoiled and sometimes shrill in her discontent. Her devoted Michel, subtly played by Ben Ortega, seems genuinely lovable, though unloved. Tom Hudgens portrays Arkady, the tradition-bound husband, with natural authority, while Wood Lockhart depicts Dr. Shpiegelsky’s self-awareness and good humor.
Zach Stewart plays the appealing tutor, Alexsey, and Emily Ludlow is talented young Vera. The arguing servants, Matvey and Katya, are acted by Johnny DeBernard and Jocelyn Roddie. Robyn Wiley is the snuff-addicted Lizaveta, and Kim Bromley is the estate’s distinguished owner, Anna. The outsider, Herr Schaaf, is given a humorous turn by Mark Shepard, with Frederick Lein as the unwelcome suitor, Bolshintsov.
“A Month in the Country” will be at the Barn Theatre in the Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross, Thursdays through through Sunday April 12. Thursday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
(NOTE: There will be both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances on Saturday, April 11.
Ticket prices range from $14 to $29. For complete information, call 415-456-9555 or see www.rossvalleyplayer.com