Tag Archives: Burnt by the Sun

Theatre Review: Burnt by the Sun

24 Feb


Plot: Colonel Kotov (Ciaran Hinds), decorated hero of the Russian Revolution, is spending an idyllic summer in the country with his beloved young wife Maroussia (Michelle Dockery) and family. But on one glorious sunny morning in 1936, his wife’s former lover Mitya (Rory Kinnear) 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.

The main reason why I wanted to see this play was because of Ciaran Hinds whom I have seen in a number of films and made for tv movies. But it was his role as Captain Wentworth in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion that I fell for him hook line and sinker. Tonight was the play’s first preview and it was nice to also be in the company of fellow theatre trotters Phil, Tim of LondonTheatreGoer, Andrew/Phil of the West End Whingers fame still flying high from their recent success after their blog was named as one of the 100 best blogs in the Performing Arts by the Times. YEY!

Tonight is the first preview so expectations are not very high. Saying that, I am amazed at the bevy of talent in this production with Hinds, Rory Kinnear and Michelle Dockery. Please dont shoot me for this confession, but as I am a late bloomer for theatre, I didnt really understood the magnitude of Kinnear’s talent until I saw him in the BBC’s The Long Walk to Finchley where he played Denis Thatcher opposite to an equally effervescent Andrea Riseborough as Margaret. No, I did not see him in The Man of Mode, The Revenger’s Tragey or Philistines. I am playing catch up here alright? As for Dockery, I saw her in Pillars of the Community and last year’s Pygmalion as Eliza Doolittle at The Old Vic.

It took a while for me to get into grips with the play, it wasnt until halfway to the interval that it really got me itching to see Act 2. For a while I even thought, but this is just my type of plot, as I do love anything that has to with espionage when reading or when watching a film. So what was really going on in my head was how good must the film be and how I can get my hand on a copy to see it. Altogether, it was brave attempt to do a stage adaptation. I am not a big fan of films being translated into stage plays but the effort was there – a revolving dacha courtesy of Vicki Mortimer, melodious singing which has now become a staple fare at the National, and a superb performance from the cast, particularly Hinds and Kinnear. I thought Dockery was given too little to play with. She is more than a pretty face, saying that I couldnt help but notice her beatifully trimmed eyebrows! So yes, I’d like to see more of Dockery act; I was mulling over the thought that she could have played a better Barbara Undershaft than Hayley Atwell, although I meant no disrespect there of course.

The highlight of the evening was really my chance meeting with Mr. Hinds who was ever so accommodating when Andrew and I approached him. And our conversation went something like this:

Simone: Hi, I am Simone, I have loved your work since Persuasion, and I really enjoyed your performance tonight.
Ciaran: Really? Thank you!
Andrew: (Sorting out the iPhone to take a photo) Be still as this doesn’t have flash.
Simone & Ciaran poses


Simone: Well,my sister is surely going to be jealous now.
Ciaran: We dont really want her to be jealous now, do we?
Simone: Well, she went and saw Al Pacino whom I love in L.A., we both love you but I am the one here, so bad for her!
Ciaran: Oh right! (He was about to sign my programme then asks) So is Simone spelled with an e in the end? (Brownie points for asking!)

Altogether a wonderful evening at the theatre!

Burnt by the Sun: 3/5
Playing at the Lyttelton, National Theatre until 21 May

Theatretrotting in February

31 Jan

My theatre escapades in January was carefully planned, not too much and not too little at three. But looking at my calendar for February I dont know if I could make it to all of them! Last year I missed nearly a dozen plays because I was too exhausted to see them and also because they were total duds which really saved me the trip. So this year I promised not to book too many or too few, but then, let’s see how it goes.

Here’s my planned theatre excursions for the month of February.

5- England People Very Nice, Olivier, National Theatre

I try and book anything that the National dishes out, and as part of the Travelex season of just £10 per ticket, even if it disappoints, it wouldnt hurt the pocket so much. Although I am really hoping it will be great!

9- Three Days of Rain, Apollo Theatre

When the news came out that James McAvoy was doing a West End play I thought to myself, there was no way I would pass this one up! It also turned out that fellow theatretrotters and friends, the West End Whingers have organised an outing and I am part of their party so I will be seeing this one with them. And really, to see James McAvoy on stage, that’s just another dream come true!

12- Zorro, Garrick

Yup, this is my 2nd trip to see Zorro, the best musical I have seen in recent years. I have been hyping about it to my friends so I booked it via GetIntoLondonTheatre and only got the tickets for £25 each. Two other friends who have seen it ahead of us were pleased with the experience and couldnt thank me enough. If you still havent seen Zorro, and would like to pay less, the promo for their £25 tickets is available until 12 February.

17- Oliver!, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Right, confession time. I still havent seen Oliver the movie, but know a few of the songs from the musical so I am watching this literally with a fresh set of eyes and ears and I really think that’s exciting! My Welsh family of friends Christine, Gaynor, Annette and mummy Megan are joining me in this occassion and we can’t wait!

24 – Burnt by the Sun, Lyttelton, National Theatre

And last but not the least, Ciaran Hinds. I may not have waxed poetic about my love for the man in this blog the way I have done with Simon Russell Beale but I also admire Ciaran Hinds. Wait, werent they together in Persuasion? So, I was also wishing that Mr. Hinds would go back to his roots and now I will get that chance. Another case of too many men and so little time!

Simon, if youre reading this, it’s always been you, but since youre away, sometimes there are others too. x

26- The Magic Flute, London Coliseum

It was a choice between watching the ENO production playing at the Coliseum or seeing the ETO’s production which will be playing at my local Hackney Empire in March, and the former won, mainly because Nicholas Hytner’s genius is attached to it and is very highly recommended. If I enjoy it too much and have the spare time and dough, I might just book it again in March (as if I am not busy then too!). You just can’t have too much opera!

So looks like it’s gong to be a fun-filled February eh?

National Theatre’s November-February Season

17 Nov


How do you start all over again? Will the words come out easy just like it used to be?

No, it’s not some soppy line from a cheap rom-com but it’s my thoughts (still cheap!) about where to start again with this blog. Then I figured that since most of its content are about my theatre escapades, then it will be easy to talk about what is up at the National Theatre for their November-February season. Pretty good save there huh? Having said that, I didnt realise that a year has almost gone by since I started taking up theatre as an alternative to film and what a good year for theatre has it been, but that’s altogether another blog entry.

It looks like the National is appealing to my heart all the time with their productions. For one thing this year, they brought me and Simon Russell Beale together via Much Ado About Nothing, Major Barbara, A Slight Ache and Landscape. Knowing that my heart will be missing SRB who will be in Broadway for The Bridge Project and will not return to Mother England until May, how will we keep Simone close to home? What about Captain Wentworth, she used to like him didnt she? So yes, let’s bring in Ciaran Hinds and make Simone happy!

And so you did guys! Ciaran Hinds is in Burnt By The Sun and I am so thrilled! I have seen him in films like The Phantom of the Opera, Calendar Girls, The Sum of All Fears and tv, like HBO’s Rome where he played a brilliant Julius Caesar, The Mayor of Casterbridge among others but my all-time favorite being Jane Austen’s Persuasion where he played Captain Frederick Wentworth which incidentally also had SRB playing Charles Musgrove. Big coincidence huh? I have booked to see Burnt by the Sun in one of its preview dates in February.

Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage is also another production that I am quite keen to see, having missed the one staged earlier this year, I also booked to see this 2 days after the Ides of March. I have not booked it yet but I am also planning to see England People Very Nice.

For the full season’s productions, please visit the National Theatre website.