I was delighted to work with Bernard Cuffling on this adaptation of Turgenev's A Month In The Country by Brian Friel. It's such a lovely period, with a lot of scope for a designer. I wanted to keep the colours light and soft, as the play takes place in the summer, and stick as closely as I could to period fashion concepts. The very patient cast worked around their corsets and farthingales rather well, I thought.
This dress was made from a set of curtains donated to United Players, worn by the lovely Jennifer Kaleta. I was rather proud of the way I matched up the embroidery in the bodice, which is made up of nine different panels. She got herself a little too tanned for an upper class lady of the 19th Century, but it was too beautiful outside to resist.
Robert Duncan played Arkady, Natalya's husband, and country gentleman. We wanted to achieve the right balance with his costume of active country landlord. He spends the entire play talking about the improvements he's making on his land, so I didn't want him too fancified. Again, the colours in his costume are soft, and light, as befits the season.
Aleksey, the young tutor that Natalya becomes obsessed with was played by Chris Cope, who was very handsome in his blue waistcoat.
Michel, the long time friend and unrequited lover of Natalya, was played by Dean Wunsch, who was lovely in the role.
Lisa Oppenheim played Vera, the young girl hopelessly in love with Aleksey, who ends up being married off to the creepy old man, Bolshintsov, played by Dick Pugh. The bonnet seemed a bit much, but I wanted to stick with the period, and well, that's how unmarried girls dressed. Happily, fashion has moved on since.
Dick Pugh was deliciously creepy as the lecherous old Bolshintsov, dressed in his Sunday best to come court the child-like Vera.
Nina Shoroplova played the spinster, Lisaveta. The photos were taken from an unfortunate angle, making the dress look far more daring than it really was, but she played the part beautifully. The dress was made from a faux Shangtung silk, reflecting the character's relative poverty and eager attempt to fit in with her financial betters.
Luke Day played Doctor Shpigelsky, country doctor and marriage broker, who arranges the completely absurd marriage between the ancient Bolshintov, and the innocent Vera, while courting Lisaveta for himself.
Derek Carr was wonderfully pompous as the barely intelligible German, Dr. Schaaf. His silly peach tailcoat was made by one of my several wonderful volunteers.
Naomi Dayneswood played the precocious servant, Katya. The servants wore much more traditional Russian clothing, compared to the Paris fashions of their employers. They are also, by far, the most colourful characters, both in terms of their clothing and their personalities.
Crispin Bryce was very witty as Katya's lover, Matvey. The second picture here is him clowing around with the haunting, minimalist set of tall, naked trees.
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