The Primrose Path

by Crispin Whittell
directed by Roger Rees
originally produced at Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN.
April 27, 2013 through June 15, 2013

About the Premiere Production:

The Primrose Path follows Lavretsky upon his return to Vasilyevskoye, a small Russian village, after living with his avaricious wife for eight years in Paris. In an attempt to bury the past, he seeks a sense of purpose at home, but his Sorbonne education has left him unskilled to tend his neglected estate. When he visits his cousin Maria Kalitin, he finds her similarly enamored with the West as embodied by Panshin, a French-speaking fop with whom she hopes to match her daughter Liza.

Lavretsky tries to reacquaint himself with his native countryside while Mikhalevich, his Russian university friend, attacks his disillusionment to remind him of his lost Russianness. Lavretsky is left to reconcile his conflicted identity and accept reality over romanticism, or else realize the fate of Mikhalevich’s prediction: an “entire life spent figuring out when to start living."

Artistic Statement

The Primrose Path, a world-premiere adaptation of the Turgenev novel Home of the Gentry by Crispin Whittell, brings together a powerful love story with phenomenally rendered characters and a sensibility that bridges pre-czarist Russia with contemporary humor and poignancy. Whittell’s writing, which combines deft wit with a profound sense of humanity, will be directed by 2012 Tony Award nominee Roger Rees, bringing a vivid and approachable theatricality to a work that portrays a period of unease before the vast turbulence of the 20th century. Its protagonist, Lavretsky, is a great romantic hero whose trials and experiences are emblematic both of his time and place as well as universal themes of betrayal, longing and the search for meaning. Whittell has also crafted a series of great female characters, with a complexity that reveals the breadth of Turgenev as a storyteller as well as Whittell’s own facility. As one of three new plays in the Guthrie’s 2012-13 season, The Primrose Path demonstrates the theater’s commitment to new work in a balance with the classics, and represents an exciting opportunity to bring a compelling and universal story to our audience.

Grant Statement

This grant from the Edgerton Foundation will support six days of rehearsal time with the entire cast and creative team.

Director: Roger Rees
Set Design: Neil Patel
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Sound Design: C. Andrew Mayer
Cast: Christian Bardin, Candace Barrett Birk, Tom Bloom, Kyle Fabel, Nathaniel Fuller, Hugh Kennedy, Suzy Kohane, Ann Michels, Jim Stanek, Sally Wingert

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