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Children of the Sun - National Theatre (Lyttelton)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE NATIONAL Theatre has announced its programme for the coming months (February to June 2013) and as well as William Shakespeare’s Othello, it includes Andrew Upton’s new version of Gorky’s Children of the Sun, which opens in the Lyttelton Theatre on April 16 (previews from April 9) before continuing in repertoire.

Howard Davies directs a cast that includes Lucy Black, Steven Blake, Matthew Flynn, Florence Hall, Jonathan Harden, Lucas Hare, Matthew Hickey, Paul Hickey, Paul Higgins, Gerald Kyd, Gemma Lawrence, Emma Lowndes, Maggie McCarthy, Justine Mitchell, Gerard Monaco, Anna O’Grady, Rhiannon Oliver, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Stephen Wilson and Karren Winchester.

Protasov (Geoffrey Streatfeild) wants only to immerse himself in chemical experiments to perfect mankind. He’s oblivious to the voracious advances of the half-crazed widow Melaniya and his best friend’s unrelenting pursuit of his wife, let alone the cholera epidemic and the starving mob at his gates.

While Nanny fusses round, Protasov’s admiring circle, variously sceptical and lovesick, spar over culture and the cosmos. Only Liza feels the peasants’ suffering and senses their own privileged world is in jeopardy.

Maxim Gorky’s darkly comic play (1905) depicts the new middle-class in Russia, foolish perhaps but likeable, as they flounder about, philosophising, yearning, or scuttling between test tubes, blind to their impending annihilation.

Geoffrey Streatfeild’s previous work at the National Theatre includes The Pains of Youth, Earthquakes in London and The History Boys. His credits elsewhere include the title role in Macbeth and Copenhagen (Sheffield Theatres), and the title role in Henry V and Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II (RSC). He has also appeared on television in The Thick of It and Spooks.

Andrew Upton’s stage adaptations include Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Bulgakov’s The White Guard and Gorky’s Philistines for the National Theatre; and, for Sydney Theatre Company where he is Artistic Director, Uncle Vanya, Hedda Gabler, Don Juan and Cyrano de Bergerac. His original plays include Riflemind and The Hanging Man.

Howard Davies, an Associate Director at the NT, received Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Director for his production of The White Guard. His recent NT productions also include The Last of the Haussmans, The Cherry Orchard, Blood and Gifts, Burnt by the Sun, Gethsemane, Her Naked Skin, Never So Good, Philistines and The Life of Galileo.

Children of the Sun is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Paul Groothuis.

NB: Children of the Sun is part of the Travelex £12 Tickets season.