January 30, 2015

A Month in the Country feels like a week in the gulag — or perhaps I should say a stint in a minimum-security prison? — in the Classic Stage Company’s listless staging of Ivan Turgenev’s melancholy comedy of romantic misalliances and infatuations. The production, which opened on Thursday night, stars two performers riding high on television fame: Taylor Schilling, the jailed Piper Chapman of Orange Is the New Black, portrays the restless, disaffected heroine, Natalya, and Peter Dinklage, from Game of Thrones, is her ardent admirer, Rakitin. While both may bring some luster to the box office — nary a seat was empty at the performance I caught — they don’t do much to enliven the director Erica Schmidt’s torpid staging of this delicate play. (Ms. Schmidt and Mr. Dinklage are married.) Ms. Schilling, making her New York stage debut, certainly looks ravishing in the single-hued, full-skirted gowns designed by Tom Broecker — perfect red-carpet wear for all those celebrity runways of 19th-century Russia. But she brings little nuance to her portrayal of the emotionally adrift Natalya, who’s bored with her marriage, and has even grown tired of her intimate flirtation with Rakitin, on whom she has long depended for his quiet adoration. Natalya’s restless heart finds a new emotional stimulus in the tutor Belyaev (Mike Faist), whom she has hired to teach her young son, Koyla (Ian Etheridge). But she is not the only member of the household to fall under the spell of his high spirits. As Natalya begins to feel the stirrings of love for this younger man, she intuitively senses a similar attraction to Belyaev in her ward, Vera (Megan West).