Review: Children of the Sun, National Theatre

This makes a fascinating contrast to Summerfolk which I saw a few weeks ago. Maxim Gorky wrote the two plays at the same time and in both cases, the first half sets up the characters, the home owner with his poetry writing sister, the constant servant, various people in love with other people; the second half plays then out the drama resulting from these relationships and reminds us that behind this privileged group people are starving.

ChildrenoftheSun_2 L to R: Geoffrey Streatfield as Protasov, Emma Lowndes as Liza and Justine Mitchell as Yelena. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith, courtesy National Theatre

I do not want to spoil it by giving away any more but a crucial incident in Summerfolk which plays out as farce becomes a tragedy in Children of the Sun. The acting, direction and set were, of course, superior to those at LAMDA but it is surprising how well the latter did in their relatively impoverished circumstances. Gorky has been shamefully overlooked for so long, perhaps because he was Stalin’s favourite playwright. Thoroughly recommended.

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