The Country is a taut psychological domestic horror here performed with cutting elegance in Amelia Nicholson’s intelligent production. New country doctor Richard has brought an unconscious woman home, ostensibly under honourable pretences. His wife Corinne remains unconvinced and when the predator like Rebecca awakens dark truths are revealed. All the while Richard’s Lynchian colleague Maurie’s disembodied presence turns this threesome into a four way balancing act of power and control.
Martin Crimp’s hyper naturalistic dialogue could, in a lesser company’s hands, seem portentous but here each repetition and arch silence is delicately delivered with an integrity that makes these pronouncements compelling. Simon Thorp as Richard, the black hole each woman orbits, smoulders nicely doing as much as he can with a purely reactionary character.
But it is the women who are the stars here. Amanda Root whose flashing eyes and occasionally clipped hysteria alone reveal Corinne’s all encompassing desperation and Naomi Wattis as the volatile Rebecca, a rolling hipped wounded animal of a girl, whose lashing out does nothing to hide her vulnerability, give truly commanding performances.
Anna Bliss Scully’s sparse design makes us feel like we are peering in through glass windows at this implosion of safe family values and one gets the distinct impression that we are surgical students being shown how to perform a dissection. We are in a place of acute voyeuristic pain but there seems to also be a sense of instruction in the spaces around each cut. But there are no clean lessons to be learnt at the end of these demonstrations, only the experience of the potent moment to moment conquests and losses that make up our existence.