(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 1/12.)

Tolstoy claimed he wrote his novella The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) in order to show the way carnal passion – whether inside or outside marriage – distracts man from the higher things in life.

In Nancy Harris’s arrestingly fine adaptation, though, first seen at the Gate in 2009 – and now revived ahead of a New York run – you swiftly grasp why it was banned by the Russian authorities: whatever moral one might draw from its portrait of a man driven to murder his wife by obsession, jealousy and disgust, the dominant motif is the debauchery of male sexual appetites and the suggestion that there’s no release from their torments. Reaching into dark recesses of human behaviour, it draws a comfortless existential vision from a macabre case.


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