Now the team of Davies, Upton and designer Bunny Christie are back with this revival of Children of the Sun, a play that Gorky wrote while in prison in the wake of Bloody Sunday (22 January 1905) when a peaceful, unarmed demonstration intent on presenting a petition to Tsar Nicholas was fired on by the Imperial Guard, with many fatalities.
We are gluttons for – or perhaps that should be gourmands of – classic Russian drama in this country.So the National Theatre's revival of a comparative rarity – Gorky's 1905 play Children of the Sun – at the Lyttelton feels particularly mouthwatering.In Summerfolk (1904), Lopakhin's vision in The Cherry Orchard (premiered earlier that year) of a dacha community of holiday homes as the seedbed for a better life is contradicted in Gorky's portrayal of Russia's new industrial classes on vacation and treating their surroundings with the casual irresponsibility of tourists."Chekhov is a sophisticated, delicate liberal with an ironic view of life.Gorky is a passionate left-winger who had had a rough, tough working-class upbringing," Howard Davies says, adding that "Chekhov is a lacemaker; it's as if Gorky is going to make a pair of jeans."In Three Sisters, Vershinin and Tusenbach "philosophise" about the future in the spirit of an evening's recreation, as if playing chess.With two successful productions to their credit already, Burning House is another welcome, vibrant addition to the wonder that is the Melbourne Independent Arts scene.
'Summerfolk' looks to be their most challenging yet and offers theatre lovers an exciting ‘blink and you miss it’ season of this unique classic.
Focusing on the household of scientist Protasov, who believes that the key to a better world lies in chemistry, the play suggests that the new intelligentsia, for all their urgent talk, are out of touch with political reality. It's horrible in here") can sound almost healthy when set against talk of how, in the interests of creating a better future for mankind in two or three hundred more years, the sensitivities of the living are of next to no importance.
And when a cholera epidemic breaks out, popular superstition decides that its source is the scientists and doctors trying to create lucrative work for themselves. Found strung up is the vet, Boris Chepurnoi, whose disillusion with any utopian project ("Struggling to love people? For a period, Gorky and Chekhov were fellow writers for the Moscow Art Theatre, founded in 1898, until Chekhov's death in 1904.
At the National, in collaboration with Andrew Upton (husband of Cate Blanchett) as translator/adaptor, has staged material sourced from either side of that drastic watershed of the Revolution of 1917.
He has directed The Cherry Orchard and Maxim Gorky's first play Philistines (written in 1901).
Their relationship was one of qualified mutual admiration (in a humorous letter to him about his short stories, Chekhov remarked of his overbearing tone that, "You are like someone in a theatre audience expressing his delight in so exuberant a fashion that neither he nor anyone else can hear the play).