Looking at the current West End lineup it appears critics are raving about Howard Davies's new take on Maxim Gorky's Russian play, Children of the Sun currently playing at The National Theatre.
Children Of The Sun features a new translation by Australian playwright Andrew Upton, who previously collaborated with Davies on The Cherry Orchard, Philistines and Olivier Award-winning The White Guard.
Gorky's dark satire is set in early 20th century Russia on the verge of revolution. The self-obsessed yet strangely warm and likeable Pavel Protasov performs chemical experiments in his home, trying to perfect mankind, completely oblivious to the advances of a lonely widow, his frustrated wife, and a superstitious mob. Although Liza, Protasov’s Sister, has a paralyzing fear of life that makes her reject a persistent suitor, she is the only character with an almost an authorial voice. When Protasov dreams of a distant future in which poverty and illnesses are eradicated, Liza asks "But at what daily, hourly, soul-destroying, inhuman, crushing cost?”
Charles Spencer from the Daily Telegraph said “The latest in Howard Davies's series of Russian dramas feels like the work of a master, the ensemble acting is superb and there's no mistaking the energy in Upton's new translation”. The Independents Paul Taylor rated the spectacle "A richly rewarding evening with a literally explosive climax".
Davies's explosive stage production precisely creates the contradictions of a work in which people are absurd without being ridiculous. Geoffrey Streatfeild as Protasov follows a basic rule of acting by playing the character from his own point of view, as a man who believes his visionary experiments justify his unworldliness and in doing so becomes believable.
Book tickets for Children Of The Sun now!
Russell Adam Webb