Having written already about Nikita Mikhalkov's film which gave the basis for this stage version at the National Theatre by Peter Flannery, I'm going to try to concentrate on the play without making too many comparisons. But that may be tricky. I was interested to hear Flannery say in an interview on Radio Four's Front Row that this adaptation was the idea of director Howard Davies, not his own. And it's a surprisingly faithful rendition of the film, with exactly the same characters and only a few changes in the second act. The Lyttelton set has a large revolving Chekhovian dacha, leaving space at the front of the stage for a riverside swimming scene interrupted by a gas attack drill. There's a lot of complicated backstory to this tale of a high-ranking Soviet general falling victim to Stalin's purges in 1936. Mikhalkov's version of Soviet history is odd, to say the least, and he stretches plausibility by trying to combine the police state of the terrorised 1930s with the carefree atmosphere of the pre-revolutionary cultural intelligentsia, which had already been comprehensively destroyed by the Bolsheviks many years before. This kind of inaccuracy matters a great deal in Russia, which has never truthfully dealt with Stalin's crimes and where young people only have the vaguest notion of their own country's history. But for a British audience it's hardly relevant. What counts is the theatrical force of the play, which comes from the story of General Kotov's betrayal by his wife's former lover, who has suddenly turned up after a decade in France. Mitya the returning exile, played by Rory Kinnear, becomes the central character in this version, while Kotov, played by Ciaran Hinds, retreats rather to the periphery and seems to be observing the action rather than taking part in it. In the film version, the charismatic presence of Mikhalkov as star and director dominates the entire story, so his fall from grace at the end is much more powerful. It's a very deft adaptation and I enjoyed it, particularly Kinnear's performance. There are some nice additional touches in the final scenes, and some story elements only hinted at in the film become more explicit on stage, while others become less important. Don't look to this play for a truthful depiction of the Soviet 1930s, but Davies and Flannery have reaped the reward of their bold decision to put this on stage. Despite the political inaccuracies, it's a highly dramatic story which Davies directs with his usual skill.