Sunstroke at the Platform Theatre
Blinded by the light, the sunlight to be precise. Sunstroke takes inspiration from two different stories: Sunstroke by Bunin and The Lady with the Dog by Chekhov. The play relates the birth, growth and death of two unconventional yet common love stories, specifically those that develop outside of marriage, which are less widely discussed but still as frequent.
Sunstroke shows spectators two parallel universes: in each of them two worlds revolve, get dangerously close, collide, then finally separate and get lost in the infinite darkness.
First there is Anna, neglected by a husband too busy with his job. In order to recover from an alleged malaise, she goes on vacation to Yalta, where she meets Dmitri, a playboy who thinks women are ungrateful. Their encounter causes upheaval for both.
Rosy Benjamin depicts Anna in her frailty well: every blink of the eye, every smile raised, every move she gently makes eventually gives way to a burning passion whose flame will consume her and deprive her of her self-regard and of the respect she ought to receive. Stephen Pucci emotionally portrays Dmitri as he falls for someone for the very first time and then struggles to get over his feelings once Anna deserts him to return to her fiancé.
Then there is an unnamed young girl, also married and also bored by a relationship in which she rushed into too soon. However, when on board a holiday ship she finds solace in the company of a lieutenant. This girl is cheeky and playful: she will seduce and possess the man, but will just as easily release him with no intention to continue the liaison afterwards. In her stage debut, Katia Elizarova is fresh and delightful in spite of her (excusable) insecurities at times, while Oliver King plays the lieutenant nicely though he lacks some intensity.
Oleg Mirochnikov’s wistful direction guides the lovers behind shadows and screens yet exposes their fragile, perilous flirtations through Masumi Saito’s intermediary dance movements. Saito intercedes without interfering to convey the characters’ vulnerabilities and ardent infatuations. Perhaps she also hints at the performance of The Geisha, which Anna attends with her husband in Chekhov’s original short story.
The only inconvenience of this production is the way it is staged: somewhat resembling a tennis match, with the two couples often performing simultaneously at opposite ends of the room, thus forcing the audience to turn their heads from one to the other. Despite this, Sunstroke remains a very interesting portrayal of fleeting love affairs.
Sunstroke is at the Platform Theatre until 21st September 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre company’s website here.