Set in a rambling 19th-century Russian mansion, Children of the Sun features a large ensemble cast of twelve. To help us get to know this abundance of characters, we asked each of the cast members to describe who they play. Here's what they had to say...
Valerie Bader - Nanny
Nanny runs the house, she is a traditionalist and tries to maintain the old protocols, whereby it is the responsibility of the household – the master of the house – to maintain the status quo. Nanny believes very strongly that everyone should know their place and that includes her (she, of course, does know her place). She is protective of her charges – loyal to the family and wants the trouble brewing to disappear and the world to return to normal.
James Bell - Misha
Misha is the son of Nazar, who is the landlord of the Protasov household. Misha has just started within the family business and is eager to please his father. Driven by money and his lust for Feema, the household maid, he feels contempt towards any man who takes her fancy and will go to certain extremes to get what he wants.
Justine Clarke - Yelena
Yelena Nikolayevna is the lady of the house who is married to the great scientist, Protasov. They are growing apart as he gets more and more focused on his work. She is searching for meaning and purpose in a life that has become stagnant. Her great fear at the beginning of the play is that her marriage to Pavel is failing.
Yure Covich - Yegor
Yegor is the handyman of the house. He likes working, booze and the occasional piece of skirt. He fears not having a job and being poor.
Jay Laga’aia - Nazar
Nazar represents 'new money'. He is the new working-class rich, who are slowly fuelling the industrial revolution in Russia. He is a businessman who knows how to manipulate the human condition in order to get want he wants. Pleasant but best kept at arms length.
Jacqueline Mackenzie - Liza
Liza, sister to Protasov, is the only one who is aware of the revolution brewing on her doorstep. She feels a deep sense of foreboding. As Bob Dylan put it, "The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind / The answer is blowin’ in the wind."
Hamish Michael - Vageen
Vageen, the artist, is a supernova – all technicolour electricity and chaotic fury. A collapsing star, disintegrating under the gravity of his own desires, struggling with the fundamental forces that wrestle within. He's a solar-storm of emotion, nuclear passion and meteoric lust, burning for wild freedom and pure experience but mostly Yelena Nikolayevna.
Julia Ohannessian - Avdotya
Avdotya is Yegor's wife. She is an earthy, wise mother of two who fears being left alone in a world that is full of evil. All she wants is for her children to grow up happy, healthy and safe.
Chris Ryan - Boris
Boris is a vet. He likes hanging out at the Protasov house, particularly as he loves Liza and would like to marry her. While the house has always been a place of great fun, inspiration and conversation, he is aware of the cracks that have formed in it and is beginning to have his doubts about it.
Helen Thomson - Melaniya
Melaniya Nikolayevna is sister to Boris. She is newly widowed, cashed up, glamorous and arrives at the Protasov house as a frequent guest. Melaniya is very emotionally needy and turns all her desires on Protasov and pursues him with vigour – despite the inconvenience of him bot loving her back and the fact that he is married. I would call her a passionate but lost soul, looking for love and meaning who discovers instead some self-knowledge.
Contessa Treffone - Feema
Feema is the Protasovs' sassy young housemaid. With several of the men vying for her attention, she highly enjoys playing them off against each other, using her sexuality as prime currency. Business-savvy and head-smart, she is eager to get out of the constraints of the lower class and into the wealthy upper class.
Toby Truslove - Protasov
Protasov is a scientist – brilliant, obsessive and slightly broken. A visionary with eyes locked firmly on the future. This vision, ironically, makes him blind to what's happening around him right now. His wife's unhappiness, the attention of an admirer and the extent of his sister's illness. He is the head, in name alone, of a once great family locked, with a dysfunctional circle of friends and admirers, in a slow slide toward disaster and revolution.
Children of the Sun, 8 Sep - 25 Oct, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House