First of all, it is important to note that the choice of this text and all its demands represent a challenge that is bigger than what this group of actors can aim to accomplish. Producing this type of Restoration drama within the modern day is something that even the most successful theatre companies have struggled with, since the language is encoded and the themes explored no longer represent many situations of current society.
That was one of the most shocking aspects of this production. There is no attempt to recreate the original ideas and establish through them a parallel with society today. Despite advertising itself as a modern recreation of My Country Wife, this production fails to highlight the modern issues with the themes explored. Obviously the text is funny and has some interesting scenes, but it is old and needs a new approach so that the modern day choices are justified.
I hope that no one agrees with the way women and marriage used to be portrayed in the seventeenth century, but it seems that in this show, even though male chauvinism is ridiculed, it is still there. The women seem to be either dumb, sexual objects or totally dependent on their husbands. The direction and adaptation seem to be stuck in the seventeenth century in this sense as the actors seem play up to this dated theme rather than questioning it. There are no deep conclusions about the relevance of using this text in London, 2016.
The acting is very basic and sometimes the actors struggle with the lines. It should be mentioned that the text is long and the language is not easy, so as much as I understand the challenge this script presents, these errors are not admitted in a professional context. The show results in a very long production, longer than the audience can bear.
The staging, by Gavin Mc Aliden, has interesting choices. It is very simple and stripped back, but it works. The entrances and exits are well thought out and contemporary pop songs are used as tabs between the scenes. This is an obvious choice when setting this production within the modern day, but once more, its relevance to the script is not clear and after a while it becomes predictable. The lighting is one of the best elements, it is very clean but all the black outs and different environments came in the right way.
I have to mention the actors’ commitment and how much they were engaged in showing a beautiful work. The group energy was amazing and I can’t help thinking that there would be so much potential to be explored within these cast of 12 people, however, it just didn’t work this time.
My Country Wife is playing at the Theatre Technis until 8 May. For more information and tickets, see the Theatre Technis website.