Howard Davies follows the brilliant Gethsemane with the equally enthralling Burnt By the Sun which superbly conveys the effects of Stalin's evil paranoia. The first half is unmistakably Chekhovian as a White Russian family cling to relics of their pre-revolutionary lifestyle, barely tolerated by Ciaran Hinds' brusque Bolshevik general. His young wife (a luminous Michelle Dockery) is stunned when a former lover returns after an unexplained absence. Rory Kinnear adds tap dancing to his extraordinary range of skills and produces another almost perfect performance as Mitia. The second half brings home the awful truth of Stalin's purges of old comrades as Mitia takes advantage of his secret role to exact a terrible revenge on the general who had deprived him of the love of Maroussia. I did feel that Kinnear didn't quite fully capture the chilling power of his hold over Kotov but this is a small quibble over a brilliantly acted and staged production, an apt successor to August: Osage County which fully graced the Lyttelton stage. - David Baxter
21 May 09
Still waiting to see the back of that dashed dacha. Great show though. - joesmith
10 Apr 09
It felt like watching a Russian classic -- a mix of the epic and the individual, done with emotion, depth, and style, and plenty of humour too.
Great ensemble and production team. - Martin H
13 Mar 09
Utterly over-staged! It's a disgrace when a designer, Vicki Mortimer, denies at least the first few rows a view of the actors faces and for whole scenes because her set gets in the bloody way. I love the creative talents of the NT prop builders. Why is it the credit always goes to the designers? They probably couldn't bang a bloody nail in a wall! Yet they walk off with all the accolades. My admiration goes to the builders who construct them. Not only do they look terrific when erected, but they are capable of being taken apart night after night and still look great. Anyway, enough of this rant, the bloody set was clearly meant to be compensation for a thin and flimsy plot. Another bummer then. Come on NT get it together - like the set! 2/10 - rds
05 Mar 09
I took a chance booking this months back as it sounded dry on paper, but I loved Howard Davies' production of 'Flight' many years ago so I had hopes it would be similarly entertaining. We were certainly not disappointed. The set is beautiful, the acting is first class, the drama is gripping, and chances are unless you did A Level history you'll learn a bit about the Russian Revolution too. It was a night that makes me proud to support the NT as it is the sort of production that is hard to imagine anyone else putting on. Highly recommended. - Nick
05 Mar 09
What a terrific play Peter Flannery has produced. Set at the beginning of Stalin's purges, it starts very Chekhovian but then rather than people banging on about nothing for 3 hours you get a story, plots and twists - and its 30 minutes shorter! A terrific ensemble has a trio of performance gems by Cairan Hinds, Michelle Dockery and Rory Kinnear at its core and Vicki Mortimer's set establishes the time and place perfectly. Howard Davies provides us with a mastercalss in staging. At last, The NT back on form. - Gareth James
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