Jo Clifford's adaptation strips the novel down to its two tales of social defiance. There is Anna, rejecting her husband's respectability in favour of a lusty young army officer who complains that "no one listens to their heart". And there is Levin, turning against urban materialism in favour of the ethics of the countryside.
It is classily done in a fluid and spacious staging. Kevin Lennon makes a loveable Levin, his arms flailing like a man possessed of a singular idea, and John Buick grows ever more austere – and frightening – as Anna's cuckolded husband. But where Emily Winter made a credible Nora in A Doll's House last year, she fails to find the gravitas to make the full journey as Anna. As the put-upon wife, she seems mildly peeved; as the run-away adulterer she is moderately passionate – much like Tony McGeever's crop-headed Vronsky. With so weak an erotic charge between them, there is too little at stake for us to care about the consequences of their actions, leaving an emotional deficit at the heart of a polished production.