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3 Winters

First Published 4 December 2014, Last Updated 8 December 2014

What’s it all about?

It may have turned so cold outside that it’s as if we’re feeling the effects of three simultaneous winters, but the freezing conditions inherent to the season have little to do with the plot of Tena Štivičić’s new play at the National Theatre. Regardless of the chilly time of year, what’s important are the three snapshots of time, which see the lives of four generations of a family presented over the course of the production. Inspired by her own personal lineage, Štivičić focuses on three historical periods – the post-war establishment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945, its impending dissolution in 1990, and 2011 when an independent Croatia prepares to join the EU – all the while staying within the same household.

Who’s in it?

There are several stand-out performances among the 18-strong cast. Jodie McNee has swapped the warm summer breeze of the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, where she appeared in Hobson’s Choice earlier this year, to play the jokey and opinionated Alisa in this winter-set production.

Jo Herbert is a feisty and short-tempered Rose, whose daughter Masha – played by Siobhan Finneran – cleverly takes on some of her character traits as if passed down from one powerful matriarch to another.

James Laurenson gives a modest but heart-wrenching performance as a nostalgic and grieving husband and Adrian Rawlins brings humour as an animated chatterbox who relies on the technological support of his daughters to record his television documentaries.

What should I look out for?

Harrowing images of war and death courtesy of Jon Driscoll’s striking projections.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@rogercharteris Just seen 3 Winters at the National. Thought provoking, fantastic theatre! Reminds me why I got into this biz in the first place. Loved it!

@rachel_hump  Funny, engrossing and poignant- go and see 3 Winters @NationalTheatre (and leave thinking “why don’t I know more about Croatian history?”)

In a nutshell?

Tena Štivičić covers more than a decade of Croatian history through a changing portrait of one family’s life in her new play for the National Theatre.

Will I like it?

3 Winters may be steeped in foreign politics but that’s not to say – you’ll be pleased to hear – that you need Mastermind specialist subject-style knowledge of Croatian history to enjoy it. Of course it helps, but if you were to walk into the Lyttelton Theatre not knowing where Croatia was on a world map you would still take something away from Howard Davies’ production. It is, after all, not just a tale about politics, but also a family drama full of bickering, teasing and sarcasm with characters that most people are sure to identify with. As the daughter of a man who recently attempted to record an episode of 24 but instead ended up with two hours of Sunday Brunch, I for one can identify with Rawlins’ technologically challenged Vlado.

3 Winters is playing at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre until 3 February. You can book tickets through us here.

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