Using a powerful mix of Brechtian rehearsal-room distance and hyper-realistic social satire in the style of Ayckbourn or Mike Leigh, Winter Solstice follows the response of a well-off bourgeois German couple, Albert and Bettina, when Bettina’s mother Corinna arrives for Christmas with an elderly gentleman caller, a chap called Rudolph who combines a benign manner with some distinctly unpleasant views, notably about all shades of foreigners.
Albert, an expert in the history of Nazism, soon recognises Rudolph for what he is; but with his marriage in bitter adulterous tatters, and his mother-in-law besotted with the stranger, Albert is just too alone, politically and personally, to act effectively on his convictions.
There’s something slightly too slick about this premise, in Alice Malin’s clever and eloquent production; it’s too easy to laugh at these “relatable” bourgeois types, too difficult to map the path we need, from cleverly-observed helplessness to worthwhile resistance.
There’s no faulting Malin’s fine cast, though; and with Felix Hayes in terrific form as the clever and compromised Albert, and Marian McLoughlin acting up a storm as the wickedly complicit Corinna, Winter Solstice makes for a riveting two hours of theatre, for those minded to look beyond its satirical surface to the troubling questions beneath.
Final performances today