Literary Analysis Essay on The Country House by Donald Margulies

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1229 Words
Date:  2022-12-21


The Country House is a contemporary play written by Donald Marguiles. It was first staged in the year 2014 in Broadway directed by Daniel Sullivan and starring some of renowned actors and actresses such as Blythe Danner. Since its showcase, The Country House has gathered positive criticism and feedback from theatre lovers and the public in general. This is mostly attributed to its fusion style of combining tragedy with grammar to address some topics well relatable to the modern audience. This paper is based on a critical analysis of the play's production where some aspects of modern production have contributed to its success in theatre.

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Watching the play on stage gives the audience a thrilling experience of entertainment from the well-crafted plot. There are however contributing factors to the success of this play about its production methods and techniques. There has been a significant improvement in theatrical productions since the time of the Romans. Such development has been instrumental in ensuring better quality productions in attaining the objectives of these art forms. Attending the showcase of this play by the Melbourne Civic Theatre makes them apparent from the comparison of the modern production techniques to those used in early ages. Improvements are all centred around three factors: Technology, Theatre Companies and Contemporary Themes.

Technological advancements are significant differences between traditional and modern theatrical environments. As the world progresses with the assimilation of machines and tools in human's daily lives so is the adoption of advanced technology in the contemporary theatre. Technology has affected theatre production for example in the transformation of the stage setting. The change is seen primarily in the use of modern lighting techniques. There is the use of better lighting solutions such as the use of electric bulbs instead of candles and lanterns as used in the early ages. These were a much more expensive and dangerous lighting method. The ancient Greeks relied on natural lighting to stage plays; hence could only be done during the day. Candles and lanterns were also expensive to hold multiple rehearsals and thus reduced the freedom of actors to conduct enough preparations. In the modern theatre, there is the use of advanced lights that can be tweaked in stage directions such as the use of spotlights to focus on a single character. Lights are also mounted on robotic hydraulics that can move around to affect several conditions of lighting while on stage.

Technology has also aided in the production of musical and sound effects on stage. For example, in the opening scene of the Country House, there is the use of a car sound effect to create the impression of a car pulling up. This aids in stage directions where actors can keep up with scenes. The audience is also able to decipher the meaning of scenes from the play. The use of advanced methods of production makes it easier to produce the play. There is the use of electronic mixers and speakers that can produce pre-recorded sound and music instead of the use of musical instruments such as drum kits. This is an improvement over the physical methods used in early ages to produce music and sound. For instance, the ancient Greek used a choir to perform live during musical scenes. There was also the use of huge bells to indicate the end of a scene.

Technology has also been instrumental in the advertisement of play production dates to the audience. The ad is through the employing of social media in informing people that a play will be staged on a specific date in a particular venue. A picture was previously circulated through Facebook for the MCT's production of The Country House. There are also several online magazines and blogs that conveyed the information before the 22nd of March, for example, The New York Times ran a column on the play and its production date. This ensures that more people are aware of the information and can attend the stage production. In the early days, people would rely on the relay of a word on the streets and the use of much more expensive flyers. This saw that theatrical productions were attended by a few people in the society who were from the upper-class economy.

The establishment of Theatre Companies is also another difference between modern and traditional theatre. These are important to theatre production since they are houses under which all elements for production are readily available. For instance, there is funding, auditioning of actors, the presence of professional directors and the offering of promotion for the production. Theatre Companies were not present in early times such as during Shakespeare's time. All these resources were difficult to source for successful production. It made production an expensive process with the use of simpler inexpensive options, for example, the use of the only readily available costumes. Actors would have to make use of what they had available to cut on costs. The expensive nature is among the reason why only the wealthy could afford to pay for theatre tickets in those times.

Theatre Companies also house several competent directors. In this instance, the MCT employed the services of Peg Girard who ensures a masterpiece production of the play on stage. Directors are important in overseeing the whole play in ensuring smooth production from the actors' movements and voice to the lighting and stage setting. Shakespeare's time was however different as there were no directors. The writer would only work with the actors, therefore, leaving a huge burden of a task to them that ended in plays of more inferior quality as compared to modern ones. During rehearsals, actors would be handed a script containing only their part and not the whole play. Actors would make their ways of rehearsing such as the use of younger actors to help them connect the plot. Rehearsals also proved to be much expensive due to outdated techniques such as the use of lanterns.

In comparison, the only similarities between modern and ancient theatre are the use of current issues and topics prevailing in the society in the then current times. The classical Greek theatre productions included the influence of the interaction between gods and man. This is seen for example in Sophocles' works such as Antigone. The Elizabethan theatre involved conflicts between the rich and poor such as in Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare due to the then pronounced differences between the royals and their subjects. The modern theatre is also conforming to current issues in our modern society through themes such as feminism and naturalism. The Country House for instance incorporated controversial topics such as fidelity in its plot. Characters are also seen to be often flirting with each other to present the theme of romance to the audience. There is also reference to various popular pop culture elements such as the reference to the movie 'Mamma Mia.'


In conclusion, there are distinct differences between modern and ancient theatre due to eased methods of production. Technology has played a significant role in modernizing theatrical production and helped overcome most of the challenges faced by old productions. The future looks promising with more advancement in technology that can improve the smooth creations. The two types of theatres are only similar in presenting art that is trending in the current societies. Audiences in both theatres come to be entertained and educated as well.

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Literary Analysis Essay on The Country House by Donald Margulies. (2022, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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