Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sculpture and Russian Romance

On my second day in London, I had arranged to meet up with some friends, and to see 'Three Days in the Country' with them at the National Theatre.

But as they were all coming up for the day, and I was already in town, I had time to visit the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at the Tate, before joining them for lunch.

I love Hepworth's work. I was lucky that, at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning,and 3 months into the exhibition's run, the exhibition was not too crowded.

I particularly loved the big, Guarea wood pieces.They have the same rich colour and tactile appeal as perfect conkers do (although you are not allowed to touch them, which is sad, as they cry out to be touched, as well as viewed)

After leaving the exhibit I had time for a quick look at some of the other rooms in the gallery - it's a long time since I've been to the Tate.

After lunch, and some catching up with lovely friends, we went in for the matinee of 'Three Days in the Country' it is a re-working by Patrick Marber of Turgenev's play 'Three Months in the Country', set in pre-revolutionary Russia, and depicting the explosive effect of new tutor, Belyaev (Royce Pierreson) upon the household.

John Simm is Rakitin, long term friend of Arkady, in love, equally long term, with Arkady's wife, Natalya (Amanda Drew) - she takes him for granted, to the extent of confiding in him, and seeking his help, about her attraction to Belyaev. Simm gives a beautifully restrained performance, cynical and long suffering, but eventually revealing his real pain.

Mark Gatiss has a superficially much more entertaining role, as Shpigelsky, the doctor - the scene in which he proposes marriage is comedy gold, but he too has hidden depths, in his insecurity and overcompensation for it.

Then of course there is the new tutor himself, a little uncertain of himself,   falling in love with the household, but wreaking havoc as Natalya, her ward Vera,and the maid Katya all fall for him.

It is very funny but also full of little tragedies. And there isn't a weak link in the entire cast.

The run is very nearly over so you can't see this production, unless you can get to the National Theatre in the next three days. So you'll just have to take my word for it that it is well worth seeing.

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