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Tuesday 24 January 2012

The Kreutzer Sonata, Play by Nancy Harris, adapted from Leo Tolstoy, Gate Theatre, London, 8* out of 10

When I was a young child I spent many hours travelling by train with my mother between Salzburg in Austria and Zurich in Switzerland. The mountain scenery is beautiful in all seasons. But what I remember most was the embarrassment I felt, when my mother with slight Polish accent would seek to begin a conversation with other people in the compartment, who would be reading a book or otherwise signalling that they were not up for conversation. The embarrassment invariably changed into amazement when within a very short time of this 8 hour journey, they would confide intimate details of their life to my mother as if she were their therapist and as if no one else was in the compartment.

I was reminded of all this, when Pozdynishev (Hilton McRae), the main character of The Kreutzer Sonata begins a conversation in a train compartment. Pozdynishev, a middle aged man, is not so much interested in listening, as in telling his story. It is a story of love, marriage, passion and rage whose stages evoke the andantes, allegros and crescendos of Ludwig van Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata.

Natalie Abrahami's production makes use of a great set design, film and video. Together with the live performance of parts of the The Kreutzer Sonata as the soundtrack to Pozdinyshev's storytelling skilfully enhance his monologue to make this a dramatic and exciting play. You can see it for a few more days in London after which it will transfer to La MaMa Etc. in New York from 8 to 25 March 2012.

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