The Country House. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (see Broadway). By Donald Margulies. Directed by Daniel Sullivan. With Blythe Danner, Daniel Sunjata, Eric Lange. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.
The Country House: In brief
Donald Margulies heads to the bucolic Berkshires for his latest collaboration with Manhattan Theatre Club, a family drama about a clan of ambitious artists. Blythe Danner leads the household onstage, while director Daniel Sullivan calls the shots behind the scenes.
The Country House: Theater review by Adam Feldman
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys Chekhov but wishes it were more, you know, relatable—a kind of person who probably doesn’t and certainly shouldn’t exist—then The Country House is just the play for you. Donald Margulies’s dozy family drama transplants Uncle Vanya to a cottage near the theater retreat of Williamstown, with modern jokes and bits of The Seagull patched in for variety. Anna (a grand Danner) is an aging stage actress with a stunted son, Elliot (Lange), who models a full Paul Giamatti loser look (bald, bearded, paunchy) without the wit or promise that could make him tolerable. Handsome TV star Michael (a genial Sunjata), by contrast, captures the eye of every woman in the house, including the studious Susie (Sarah Steele, underplaying to mostly solid effect) and the supposedly enchanting Nell (Kate Jennings Grant, good but miscast). The essential banality of this bubbleless soap seems intended to be tempered by our inherent fascination with show business. The play depicts an insular and obsolescent theater world, and exemplifies it.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE The body parts of Chekhov, absent the soul.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam