Wednesday, 25 February 2009

NOT: Burnt by the Sun, National Theatre, Southbank SE1 9PX

Burnt by the Sun is a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning Russian film of the same name. I remember watching the film and being struck by the idyllic Russian landscape, the languid summer heat and the creeping feeling of menace that begins when an unexpected guest arrives at the house.

On stage, it's hard to capture that kind of atmosphere, although the rotating set of the cut-away country dacha was very inventive. Also, the twist in this story of love and revenge doesn't seem quite so original when you know that the playwright adapted a screenplay written by others.

I have previously been impressed Rory Kinnear in The Revenger's Tragedy and Man of Mode, but in this role I was never really convinced that he once loved Maroussia so passionately that he would fulfil a personal vendetta against her husband. His former love affair just wasn't credible as there was little chemistry between Kinnear and Michelle Dockery. Dockery, whilst quite good, played Maroussia in a very similar vein to Eliza Doolittle in her recent Pygmalion so I found that I was watching her act, rather than be.

All in all, it was a sound production, but not one to get particularly excited about - a shame as the film is one of my favourite foreign films.

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