Set against the backdrop of 1850’s Russia. Serfs (aka slaves) still work the land under the estate holder’s control.  Reform is coming and the country is restless. Rakitin is visiting his friend Arkady at his country estate.  Arkady’s wife Natalya is recovering from her illness. Their son Kolya, and their ward Vera, are spending time with new tutor Belyaev while principal tutor Schaaf plays cards with Anna and Lizaveta, the other ladies of the house. The doctor Shpigelsky and neighbour Bolshintsov are hanging around and something is up with house servants Matvey and Katya.

This comedy of manners is expertly directed by Susan Wilson. The nuances of the relationships between the characters (in their various pairings) develop over the course of the play. Bronwyn Turei (Natalya) is self-focused yet makes it easy for us to understand why Natalya is so attractive to other characters. Gavin Rutherford (Rakitin, the other central character) dithers around wonderfully, exasperating and pathetic. Harriet Prebble (Vera) is wistfully young (as seen on the poster) and Alex Buyck (Kolya (played by Felix Steiner on alternate nights) brings a delightful energy to the stage which contrasts with the lassitude of the adults. This lethargy is deliberate, to reflect the hot summer days and the apparent notion that nothing happens in the country.  Peter Hambleton (Shpigelsky) is an exception to this, bustling around the other characters with his thoughts and opinions. He has a wonderful physical comedy scene with Carmel McGlone (Lizaveta) who uses her physical skills to good advantage as well. Simon Leary (Belyaev) is suitably bland as the young tutor while Andrew Paterson (Schaaf) is expansive in contrast.

Nothing changes yet everything changes in this very good play.