Thursday, 16 June 2016

FOUR STAR review for Sunset at the Villa Thalia at the National Theatre


THE impact of American influence and intervention - both wanted and unwanted, planned and unplanned - on people and countries is the undercurrent of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s new play Sunset at the Villa Thalia.
The production is currently playing at the National’s Dorfman stage and it’s a fascinating piece.
Charlotte (Pippa Nixon) and Theo (Sam Crane) have retreated to a small island in Greece in search of peace and inspiration. He's an aspiring playwright and she an actress. They are staying in a typical Greek villa that has been owned by the same family for several generations and that has seen better days.
They have not long arrived when into their lives come Harvey (Ben Miles) and June (Downton's Elizabeth McGovern), an American couple who ingratiate themselves on the young couple.
While June is pleasant enough, Harvey is bombastic and full of his own self importance. He works for the government and seemingly has his fingers in a great many pies. He’s also a bit of an emotional bully and has arrogance in spades.
With the rumblings of political turmoil in the background, over the course of an afternoon Harvey persuades Charlotte and Theo to make a decision that has profound repercussions for all involved.
This all comes to light 10 years later when we revisit the Charlotte and Theo who have by now got two kids and Theo is a successful playwright.
All seems OK until back come Harvey and June for a visit and it's not long before their lives begin to unravel.
With a tight script that is both emotionally charged and hilariously funny by turns, this is a strong production that is also beautifully acted by the nine-strong cast.

Sunset at the Villa Thalia is on at the Dorfman, National Theatre until Thursday, August 4. Tickets from £15. Visit or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.

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