Tuesday, 18 October 2016


THRILLERS always seem to start on a dark and stormy night David Hare’s adaptation of Georges Simenon’s Le Main is no exception.
The Red Barn, just opened at the National’s Lyttelton stage, is set in Connecticut, America in the late 60s. It concerns primarily two couples - Donald and Ingrid and Ray and Mona. The former couple have been invited to a friend’s house for a party and invite the other couple along. 
But as they leave for home, a fierce storm whips up and separates Ray from the group. As they arrive back at Donald and Ingrid’s house they realise Ray is missing. Donald goes out to try and find him but returns alone and days later Ray’s body is found.
His death has a dramatic effect on all the characters, particularly Donald whose life starts to unravel, and it sets in motion a chain of events that ultimately have devastating consequences.
Donald begins to compare his life to every man he knows. He is the Iain Duncan Smith of the play - the quiet man - and begins to realise how dull he is and how dull and boring his life has become. 
In particular he compares his life to that of Ray - the man who is charismatic, has the legal career Donald craves, not to mention the animal magnetism that sees him have any girl he wants.
He becomes consumed by envy and jealousy - seeing all men as having the things he wants - and in a bid to get some excitement back in his life he takes the opportunity to embark on an affair with Mona.
Sadly for him even this doesn’t end well and the ending is perhaps inevitable.
It is an intense and gripping production, with a good deal of suspense, beautifully staged and well acted.
Mark Strong is brilliant as Donald, letting anger, jealously and resentment build up inside him until he explodes. He is ably supported by Hope Davis as his wife Ingrid who wants nothing more than to live in her quiet town and Elizabeth Debicki (fresh from The Night Manager) as Mona who floats seductively across the stage bewitching Donald as she goes.

The Red Barn is at the National Theatre until January 17, 2017. Tickets from £15. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.

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