Two and a half hours of energising pace left the audience fizzing with delight at the full-blown modern interpretation of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”.
First written in 1875, this classic piece of world literature has been given a thorough upgrade by Scottish writer Lesley Hart and producer Polina Kalinina.
The result is an earthy production which left theatre goers at The Lyceum in Edinburgh in raptures. With clever staging, the play entwines scenes together, giving the audience a peek into two very different scenarios at the same time, like a double television screen.
Tolstoy’s book is famously long, but Hart has speeded up her new version and it moves with real speed and gusto.
An excellent cast brings everything together with Lindsey Campbell, a brilliant Anna, played with passion and zest.
The story centres around Anna and her loveless marriage to Alexei Karenin (played with real terror by Stephen McCole), which explodes when she meets and falls in love with Count Aleksey Vronsky (actor Robert Akodoto in his professional and slightly nervous theatrical debut).
All is made complicated by Anna’s friend Kitty (Tallulah Grieve in her professional theatrical debut, which she performs with aplomb), who herself is in love with Vronsky and oblivious at first, to Levin, (a passionate Ray Sesay), who in turn is madly in love with her.
Light moments are interjected by Anna’s brother Stiva (played with energy by Angus Miller) as he indulges in extra marital affairs away from his long-suffering wife and mother of his eight children, Dolly (an entertaining Jamie Marie Leary).
As the play unfolds, there are darker moments as the fall-out from the emotions bubbles to the top and Anna’s young son, Seryozha (played effortlessly by a very young and talented Ayanda Vilakazi) suffers the most from the fall-out.
Scenes merge smoothly and quickly, bouncing from a raucous party in Petersburg to a rural estate deep in the Russian countryside in this wonderfully acted production, which leaves the heart racing and the adrenaline pumping.
Anna Karenina runs at The Lyceum in Edinburgh until June 3rd and then moves to Bristol Old Vic from June 7th to 24th. For ticket availability please visit www.lyceum.org.uk and www.bristololdvic.org.uk.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.