Thursday 2 June 2016

Sunset at the Villa Thalia at the National, or, I'm Sorry You Have Failed to Interest Me

Note: This is a review of the final preview on Tuesday 31st May 2016. The press night took place last night.

This performance was one of those occasions when I arrived at the theatre feeling not much in the mood for an evening inside. Great theatre can dispel such moods, but sadly this play (my first encounter with the work of Alexi Kaye Campbell) proved to be a dull, unconvincing evening.

Sunset takes place on the Greek island of Skiathos in 1967 and 1976. In Act One we meet playwright Theo (Sam Crane) and his wife Charlotte (Pippa Nixon) who have rented a house there so that Theo can write – this is apparently easier on a Greek island than in Camberwell. Into this alleged paradise they invite (for reasons which are not convincing) an American state department official Harvey (Ben Miles) who is from the beginning one of the more obvious spies you are likely to encounter, and his stereotypically ditzy blonde wife June (Elizabeth McGovern). Once they turn up Harvey dominates the rest of the act. He tells pretty much everybody what they are thinking, why they are thinking it and, by the interval, he has talked Theo and Charlotte into agreeing to buy the rented house from a Greek uncle and daughter who want to emigrate to Australia.