Hypnotist Theatre’s latest theatrical offering The Country is a tale of underlying tensions and untold secrets. The play opens on an idyllic rural scene, but is a study of the cracks that gradually appear in this picture.
Richard (Nicholas Finerty) and Corinne (Phoebe Hames) play a relatively wealthy couple who have escaped city life, hoping to find peace and quiet in the countryside. However, when Richard brings an unconscious young girl home without much explanation, things are bound to take a very different turn. The audience, along with Richard’s wife Corinne, are left to piece together nuggets of information and work out the mystery surrounding the girl.
Phoebe Hames is particularly convincing, portraying a brave face on the surface with clear hints of discomfort and confusion beneath. Her character’s matter of fact manner provides light relief in a play with, overall, a rather unnerving tone. Rebecca (Grainne O’Mahony), the unexpected houseguest, is perfectly cast, bringing an ethereal edge to her character’s unfocused dialogue. She is unnerving as she floats through scenes delivering her often sinister lines.
The direction creates a natural feel to the play, as well as very lifelike characters, which makes such sinister moments even more hard-hitting, and a minimalist set and lighting are used effectively to complement the action on stage.
As a result of this, however, The Country relies a little too heavily on its script and actors to carry the production, which at times is not quite enough to fully engage the audience.
Having said that, the choice of play is very interesting; it is great to see something different on the Oxford drama scene that has not been done before.
While at times an unnerving evening, certain scenes are genuinely captivating, so The Country is definitely worth a watch for fans of modern drama looking for an evening out this 8th week.
The Country is playing at the BT from 2nd-6th December