Actor Nike Doukas was praised by an audience member for her chemistry with actor Leo Marks in the play, “Three Days in the Country,” which is receiving its West Coast premiere at the Antaeus Theatre in Glendale.
That chemistry comes from the two actors having been married for eight years.
“It’s really a lot of fun to pretend. It keeps our marriage playful and fun. We met doing a play together,” she said. “I feel like I’m working with my favorite actor.”
A complicated love story is at the heart of the comedy, which is an update of Ivan Turgenev’s classic “A Month in the Country,” with multiple people falling in love with one another, potentially ruining other personal and professional relationships.
Director Andrew Paul has chosen “partner casting” for the production, meaning there are two casts who rehearse together and perform in alternate performances. The character Natalya is played by both Doukas and Anna Khaja, and the role of Natalya’s best friend, Rakitin, is played by Marks and Corey Brill.
“Normally, if you have an understudy, they are the B team. This isn’t that,” Marks said. “We all are rehearsing equally, and we are both performing it. We’ve watched each other. We’ve shared ideas.”
Doukas and Marks are members of the Blunderers cast, while Brill and Khaja are in the Assassins cast. The casts’ names are in reference to the play.
Doukas said partner casting encourages teamwork among the actors.
“For me, that helps me understand the play better. If you can keep your ego out of the way, you can really collaborate with the other actors,” Doukas said.
Partner casting gives the actors the freedom to rehearse a play while also being flexible enough to do film or television work.
It also gives the audience the best actors available, Marks said.
“We don’t want an audience to get an understudy. If someone gets cast to do something else, we have two casts who are equally strong, rehearsed and ready to go,” Marks said.
Partner casts also are “the closest thing to objectivity” for actors, Marks said.
“A painter can step back from his or her canvas. If you’re a writer, you can step back and critique your work. As an actor, you can’t,” Marks said.
Doukas said the “electricity” seen in the play comes from the acting as well as the script.
“One of the things people keep saying to me is ‘this story affected me personally.’ There seems to be something here that strikes a chord with people,” Doukas said.
“There was a woman who was a filmmaker there the other night. She said, ‘Can you send me the script?’” Marks said.
“Three Days in the Country” is playing at the Antaeus Theatre Co., 110 E. Broadway, Glendale, through Aug. 26.