The Country. Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
Currently without a studio theatre, the Belgrade Theatre has moved a few miles down the road to stage this short run of Martin Crimp?s play.
First staged by the Royal Court in 2000, it?s small-scale drama in every sense, running for not much over an hour and performed by three actors on what almost seems a miniature naturalistic set.
Richard, a doctor, and his wife Corinne have recently moved to the country. The night before the play opens, Richard has arrived home carrying an unconscious young woman he has apparently found in mysterious circumstances.
The atmosphere over the kitchen table reveals tensions beneath the superficial breeziness, and we gradually gather that there is a back-history which is feeding Corinne?s suspicions as to what Richard may have been up to.
Once Richard is called out on an emergency and the young woman, Rebecca, wakes up, much more is revealed than Corinne has bargained for. But the resolution of the play is ambiguous, with the couple still locked in their edgy verbal sparring.
Lucy Taylor?s production is nicely crafted, with good performances by Christopher Bowen, Karen Drury and Stephanie Langton. There are some sparky moments, in particular the scene where Richard is desperate to keep Rebecca away from the children he believes are sleeping upstairs.
She hasn?t yet told him that they have left with her mother.
The weakness of the play is that its fractured narrative and dislocation of conversation from meaning seems so obviously derivative of Pinter as to give it a slightly secondhand look. But it certainly doesn?t out-stay its welcome.
Running time: One hour, 20 minutes (no interval). Until Saturday.