Swingeing cuts from philistine New Labour are closing small theatres all over London, but there's obviously plenty of dosh sloshing around at the National. Mikhail Bulgahov's three-hour epic flight is an absurdly lavish affair with an enormous high-tech set and a huge cast of largely bit-part actors, most of whom are totally superfluous.
The brutal black farce follows a group of White Russians as they attempt to escape the vicious Bolshevik hordes that have vanquished their armies and up-ended their world. The play is structured as a series of eight dreams and follows an ilssorted group of strangers who are thrown together in a degrading nightmare struggle for survival against the odds in a situation which is totally beyond their control.
A power-crazed White Army chief of staff with blood on his hands and the ghost of an irreverent orderly victim in tow, a hopeless intellectual, a White Army general with a gambling addiction, two spirited young women and a money-making chancer with a Mid as touch enjoy fluctuating fortunes as the action moves from the Crimean Front to Sebastopol, Constantinople and Paris.
It may be sick, obscure and over-produced, but it's a fabulous play, you can't fault the slick new adaptation by Ron Hutchinson or the pacy direction from Howard Davies and Alan Howard leads an impressive line-up. If you like value for money, that'swhat you get with Flight.
The Lyric Hammersmith can't boast National Theatre budgets and Cause Celebre is a relatively low-key affair, but none the worse for that. Sir Terence Rattigan's 1976 play was inspired by the sensational 1930s trial of 38-year-old Bournemouth housewife Al ma Rattenbury and her 18-year-old lover who were accused of murdering her husband. …