(Susannah Clapp’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/6.)
Every now and then someone announces that political theatre is dead. Last week’s plays knock that on the head, in utterly different ways.
Howard Davies’s productions of eastern European drama have been one of the glories of the past decade at the National. No director so compellingly brings together detail and panorama. He has pulled this off again with 3 Winters.
The most marvellous moments in Tena Štivičić’s new play are particular and fresh, and miles away from a history lesson. Yet they make the world tilt around them. A young woman in an old lace wedding dress whirls through a grand room. Her severe sister, sporting sleek trousers and a keen sense of justice, looks on. As does, from a painting, a Titian-haired aristocratic beauty. Tomorrow the whirler will be married to a sharp, probably dodgy uber-businessman. She will save the crumbling, beautiful house in which she has been brought up. She is not an heiress but she is an inheritor. This is Zagreb, Croatia, in the 20th and 21st century, made up of layers of different lives, aristocratic, fascist, communist, capitalist. And in this play, hurrah, mostly female.