Set over the course of a single day in a Russian dacha in 1936, it centres on Colonel Kotov (Ciaran Hinds), decorated hero of the Russian Revolution, who’s spending an idyllic summer in the country with his beloved young wife and family. But one sunny morning in 1936, his wife’s former lover Mitia (Rory Kinnear) returns from a long and unexplained absence. Amidst a tangle of sexual jealousy, retribution and remorseless political backstabbing, Kotov feels the full, horrifying reach of Stalin’s rule.
Directed by Howard Davies (who also helmed David Hare's Gethsemane at the NT recently), the cast also features Michelle Dockery, Anna Carteret, Tim McMullan, Stephanie Jacob and Duncan Bell - design is by Vicki Mortimer.
Critics were aptly warm in their reactions to Burnt by the Sun - a raft of four and five star ratings adorning today's broadsheets. Among the loftier acclamations were those of Whatsonstage.com's own Michael Coveney who proclaimed the evening was “like watching a brand new Russian masterpiece with modern political attitude”. He, like most of his critical colleagues, was also quick to praise Davies' “perfectly cast” production – with principals Kinnear, Hinds and Dockery mopping up plenty of superlatives between them. The Oklahoma house-set of August: Osage County may have been replaced on the Lyttelton stage by a Russian dacha, but Burnt by the Sun looks set to be just as hot.
- by Theo Bosanquet