The business of Summer & Smoke at the Almeida Theatre is handled with such subtly that it allows the deep emotional connection at the heart of the story to flourish. With a magnetic central pairing, Rebecca Frecknall’s production is unmissably beautiful, and the Almeida at its finest.
Peter McKintosh designs cold, skilful dictator chic: above a shining marble floor, the majestic Mittel-Europa chandelier dims to a blood-red aurora or to surveillance-camera pinpoints. A wide dark window looms beyond two silver-gilt audience chairs. We are in a Presidential Palace anywhere on the grim modern globe. The Leader himself is never seen; we watch, in fragmented, fugal snap-scenes, four women waiting for him through a long afternoon and evening. Outside, a denied revolution is brewing beyond the river as the despised “Northerners” take revenge.