Ciaran Hinds (pictured) and Rory Kinnear will star in Peter Flannery’s new stage adaptation of the 1994 Oscar-winning Russian film Burnt by the Sun (Utomlyonnye solntsem), which receives its world premiere, directed by Howard Davies, at the National Theatre in the new year, opening in rep in the NT Lyttelton on 3 March 2009 (previews from 24 February).

Dates have also been announced for other previously announced productions in the NT’s February-May 2009 booking period (See News, 17 Sep 2008), including the first two offerings in the seventh annual Travelex £10 Season in the NT Olivier – Richard Bean’s new play England People Very Nice and Rufus Norris’ revival of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman - as well as director Rupert Goold’s NT debut with JB Priestley’s Time and the Conways and Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage.

Set on the eve of Stalin’s Great Terror, Burnt by the Sun 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.

Hinds’ stage credits include the premiere of Patrick Marber’s Closer and, earlier this year, the NT’s Broadway transfer of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, as well as the title role in Richard III for the RSC. On screen, he recently played Julius Caesar in the BBC/HBO television series Rome and has appeared in films such as Oscar and Lucinda, Road to Perdition, Calendar Girls, Munich, There Will Be Blood, Hallam Foe, In Bruges and Eclipse.

Kinnear won Olivier and Ian Charleson Awards for The Man of Mode last year at the National, where his other credits include Gorky’s Philistines, Southwark Fair and, earlier this year, The Revenger’s Tragedy. Others so far confirmed for the 20-strong Burnt by the Sun cast include Pamela Merrick and Stephanie Jacob.

Peter Flannery’s plays include Our Friends in the North (which he adapted into a nine-part TV series), Singer and Savage Amusement for the RSC. Burnt by the Sun is based on the original screenplay by Nikia Mikhalkov and Rustam Ibragimbekov. The screen version won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. The play is designed by Vicki Mortimer, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Ilona Sekacz, choreography by Scarlett Mackmin and sound by Christopher Shutt.


In the NT Olivier, the 2009 Travelex £10 Season will commence with the world premiere of Richard Bean’s new comic immigration epic England People Very Nice, directed by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner and opening on 11 February 2009 (previews from 4 February). A journey, from the 17th century to the present, over four waves of immigration - French, Irish, Jewish and Bengali - in east London’s Bethnal Green shows emerging patterns. Sacha Dhawan (from the original cast of The History Boys) and Olivia Colman (TV’s Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Green Wing) star in a cast that also includes Jamie Beamish, Paul Chequer, Rudi Dharmalingam, Trevor Laird, Elliot Levey, Aaron Neil, Fred Ridgeway, Sophie Stanton and Howard Ward.

From 8 April 2009 (previews from 1 April), England People Very Nice is joined in the Travelex rep by Death and the King’s Horseman, Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka’s 1976 play, based on a real incident in Nigeria, in which a well-meaning foreign officer attempts to intervene in a ritual suicide that traditionally follows the death of the king. The production is directed by Festen’s Rufus Norris and designed by Katrina Lindsay.

In the NT Cottesloe, James Macdonald’s new production of the 16th-century classic Dido, Queen of Carthage, Christopher Marlowe’s first play, opens in rep on 24 March 2009 (previews from 17 March).

And back in the NT Lyttelton, Rupert Goold directs JB Priestley’s 1937 “time play” Time and the Conways, which opens on 5 May 2009 (previews from 28 April). The first Priestley play revived at the NT since Stephen Daldry’s multi award-winning 1992 production of An Inspector Calls, Time and the Conways centres on another seemingly golden family and, from the perspective of daughter Kay’s 21st birthday in 1919, shuttles into their future and back again to see where the seeds of their downfall were planted.

Since winning a hat trick of Best Director awards for last year’s Patrick Stewart-led Macbeth, Goold has remained busy with productions including Six Characters in Search of an Author, No Man’s Land and the upcoming Oliver! in the West End.

Also as part of the new NT schedule, playwright David Hare, whose new political drama Gethsemane premieres in the NT Cottesloe tomorrow (11 November), will read Berlin, his new 55-minute meditation on Germayn’s restored capital, for eight early-evening performances only in the NT Lyttelton from 10 February to 20 March 2009.

Highlights further ahead in the National’s 2009 programme include (See News, 17 Sep 2008): Helen Mirren tackling Phaedra, directed by Hytner; Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 polemic Mother Courage and Her Children starring Fiona Shaw and directed by Deborah Warner; Shakespeare’s comedy All’s Well That Ends Well, directed by Marianne Elliott; and Matt Charman’s new play The Observer, directed by former NT artistic director Richard Eyre.

- by Terri Paddock