Money to Throw around; NIGHT OUT IN LONDON Flight, Oliver. Sabina, Bush. Cause Celebre, Lyric Hammersmith

The Birmingham Post (England), February 14, 1998 | Go to article overview

Money to Throw around; NIGHT OUT IN LONDON Flight, Oliver. Sabina, Bush. Cause Celebre, Lyric Hammersmith


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. …

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