It helps to do your homework before seeing Aussie Andrew Upton’s new version of Mikhail Bulgakov’s adaptation of his 1920’s novel.

Set in Kiev during the Civil War following the 1917 Revolution, it’s based on personal experience of this chaotic period in Russian history.

A mixture of the farcical and the familial, the historical aspects can sometimes be confusing as the various factions battle it out, but the personal relationships ring true.

Among a first-rate ensemble, Conleth Hill’s preening aide-de-camp with a yearning to be an opera singer (and to prise Justine Mitchell’s Elena from her cowardly Deputy War Minister spouse), Pip Carter’s unworldly student (who can’t take his vodka) and Paul Higgins’ Captain (who definitely can) stand out in Howard Davies’s faultless production of a less than perfect play,



Lyttelton at the National, South Bank, SE1 9PX, (020 7452 3000) Currently in rep until 15th June (£10 – £44.00)