An Experiment To Investigate The Theatrical Properties Of Children Of The Sun

Emma Lowndes as Liza, Geoffrey Streatfeild as Protasov and Lucy Black as Melaniya. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

An experiment to investigate the theatrical properties of Children of the Sun

Purpose
To find out whether the latest collaboration between director Howard Davies, writer Andrew Upton and designer Bunny Christie at the National Theatre is worth seeing.

Hypothesis
After working together on Russian classics The Cherry Orchard, Philistines and The White Guard, we predict the trio will create something gripping, funny and sad.

Materials
- A new version of a play by Marxist playwright Maxim Gorky about the floundering middle classes
- A magnificently detailed and realistic set, complete with science lab
- An idealistic but hopeless would-be chemist, who’s a handkerchief of a man
- A misunderstood but stoic wife with artistic tendencies and a love interest
- A cynical but romantic Scot who expects less and dreams of small pigs
- A deeply sad and prescient sister; and a cringeworthy, slightly mad one
- A slutty, social climbing maid; and a nostalgic nanny, who knows her place
- Various peasants
- Lingering doubts
- Dry ice

Method
1. Suck people in fast with a high impact, disorientating opening
2. Use a daily encounter between siblings and their nanny to set the scene for a play about chemistry, bourgeoisie preoccupations, liberal hypocrisy and crippling poverty
3. Make the dining room table the centre of the characters’ world, which the action can revolve around
4. Use a cast of strong actors to deliver a script that is bold, intelligent and very funny
5. Introduce humour and hopelessness via a churlish Scotsman and his melodramatic sister
6. Add jeopardy in the shape of a cracked vat and an experiment gone wrong
7. Drop in some abject poverty and a poisoning
8. Inject a splash of Romeo and Juliet style tragedy
9. Finish with a big bang

Results
Explosive

Conclusion
Children of the Sun is a fantastic production that any fan of dark comedy, intricate dialogue, political theatre and awesome set design should seek out.

Children of the Sun plays at the Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre, until 14 July. Tickets £12-£34. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary review ticket.

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