Burnt By The Sun
Colonel Kotov, decorated hero of the Russian Revolution, is spending an idyllic summer in the country with his beloved young wife and family. But on one glorious sunny morning in 1936, his wife’s former lover 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.
Drifting around in Russian dachas is normally a sign that Chekhov is back in town. But Peter Flannery's tense, absorbing play, based on the Oscar-winning film by Nikita Mikhalkov and Rustam Ibragimbekov, is set in 1936 at the beginning of Stalin's purges. The Chekhovian atmosphere is rudely broken when a fleet of military aircraft fly over the house and the Young Pioneers pass by on parade. As Vicki Mortimer's set gently spins to reveal different parts of the house, we meet a group of nostalgic elderly musicians, Kotov, a Russian general who believes in Stalin, communism and the motherland but is also devoted to his wife, and the quixotic Mitia, who wildly plays the piano while wearing a gas mask. It's hard to know when or how Kotov realises the danger he's in. Flannery's adaptation can't recreate the visual splendour of the film, but the whole company makes its mark in Howard Davies's atmospheric production.