Apparently Stalin was a fan of Bulgakov's The White Guard which seems a bit surprising until you remember he was a Georgian who presumably enjoyed the portrayal of Ukrainians as weak, divided and cowardly. Howard Davies directs Andrew Upton's vivid adaptation and Bunny Christie provides a series of astonishing sets which fully utilise the technical capabilities of the National. The story of the shifting sands of Russia and the Ukraine at the end of World War One and the Bolshevik revolution are brilliantly (and very noisily) conveyed and surprisingly often very funny. Actually the middle scenes set during the battles and as the Hetman flees to Germany are a bit too close to an episode of Blackadder. It's the opening and closing scenes in the apartment of the Tsarist Turbin family which are most memorable as they are forced to confront loss, both of family and their nation, as they try to make the best of a future which will deny them freedom. Conleth Hill has a touch too much of Liberace to be entirely believable as a seducer of women but Justine Mitchell provides a warm and deeply emotional Elena. Not quite as good as Burnt By the Sun but The White Guard is the latest in a series of excellent political history plays on the South Bank. - David Baxter
15 Jun 10
Absolutely gob-smacking staging, technical brilliance and bravura performances. The play is fascinating, another huge feather in Upton's cap.
MORE PLEASE! - Joesmith
27 May 10
This is a terrific adaptation and a terrific production that only the National could do. It's such a fascinating piece of history and the twists and turns of the play reflect the realities of the real events. Andrew Upton, whilst being faithful to his source, has produced an accessible fresh adaptation which moves from tragic to cynical to funny seamlessly. There are some great performances and it's staged brilliantly by Howard Davies on Bunny Christie's extraordinary sets that take you from apartment to palace to school to army camp and back to apartment - and there are special effects that make you jump! Loved it. - Gareth James
15 Apr 10
I'm at a loss to explain the other excellent reviews for this production, it's another self-indulgent mess from the NT. It all feels as if we've been here before - it's basically Philistines with a sprinkling of 'Allo 'Allo thrown in. The cast - especially the supposed family members - don't gel and some are in different productions altogether; the humour is crude and the tone very uneven. To be fair, I hated Philistines too, and if you liked that you'll love this. 1 star for the production, but an extra 1 for Bunny Christie's fabulous set. But please NT - there are other countries with miserable families in them if that's the remit.... - dgr1
29 Mar 10
What an excellent play with a well written script and an excellent cast. Well done National!
Anthony Calf is superb as the Hetman. Congrats to him - Aleide M.
26 Mar 10
Yet another wonderful play from the National this season. Conleth Hill as always is a joy to watch along with the rest of the fine actors in this superb piece of theatre. Once again another play at the National not to be missed. - Ils
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