This was my first visit to the New Theatre, and it did not disappoint. Becky Catlin’s production of The Country by Martin Crimp was a truly fascinating and challenging piece of theatre. The play portrays the dysfunctional relationship of a doctor and his wife who move to the country, in search of a new life and a fresh start. But from the moment you see the stage, it becomes clear this is not going to be a sweet idyllic tale. The malevolent atmosphere invades the performance space; tree branches loom above the audience, dead leaves litter the floor. It is oppressive and neurotic. The dialogue is tense and furious, at times overwhelmingly so, until it seems like a more depressing version of Look Back in Anger, with the characters endlessly bickering and shouting.
The Country would not constitute a jolly night out at the theatre in anyone’s book. The issues the play raises are troubling; addiction, manipulation, obsession, and there is not necessarily any resolution. Despite this, I feel the play is definitely worth seeing, the dedication of the cast shines through, and their commitment creates emotional sincerity. This coupled with the ingenious set and music, makes it compelling and provoking viewing.