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Rory Kinnear is toe-curlingly good in this stunning comedy

A holiday from hell is exquisite, expensive torture for a middle-class family, and delectable entertainment for us, in this ski resort-set comedy, the humour as biting as mountain air.

Adapted by Tim Price from Ruben Östlund’s 2014 film, it cruelly exposes the treacherous crevasses of loneliness, disappointment and miscommunication beneath the pristine surface of a marriage.

Price’s version is less restrained than the movie – more savage, funnier – and Michael Longhurst’s production is supremely stylish, rising with panache to the challenge of representing epic landscapes and near-apocalyptic disaster. Its intimate drama is just as impressive, with Rory Kinnear and Lyndsey Marshal toe-curlingly authentic as discontented couple Tomas and Ebba.

Jon Bausor’s design, dazzlingly lit by Lucy Carter, is so evocative it makes you shiver. An alpine range looms against a brutally blue sky, framed by the gauzy curtains of the sleek, sterile hotel.

Dazzling design and lighting bring the alpine landscape to the stage (Photo: Marc Brenner)

The white stage, raked at a vertiginous sideways angle, suggests both snowy slopes and crisp carpets; beds flip out of the floor one moment, parades of superfit, supercool skiers swish past the next with eye-popping grace and skill (movement direction is by Sasha Milavic Davies).

Rather less elegant, as Ebba wryly remarks, are our fractious quartet, brother and sister Harry and Vera clattering behind their beleaguered parents. As they fumble with cumbersome kit, Kinnear’s Dad is as remote as the distant frosty peaks, itching to check his phone or sneak off for a secret smoke.

Marshal’s Ebba wearily struggles to hold everything together, rolling her eyes, swallowing her resentment.

Then disaster strikes. While they’re lunching in a panoramic cafe, a “controlled” avalanche, designed to regulate the snow cover, threatens to go catastrophically wrong. In the face of the approaching white-out – brilliantly realised, in all its disorientating terror, by Bausor and Carter – Tomas flees, abandoning his wife and children. An act of survival instinct, or simple selfish cowardice?

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Either way, it cracks open fissures of distrust and throws into doubt his family’s, and his own, conception of himself as a man and a father.

More aftershocks of moral judgment and sexual jealousy arrive along with Nathalie Armin as a glamorous fellow guest, and Tomas’s old friend Mats (Sule Rimi) and his vivacious, younger girlfriend Jenny (Siena Kelly).

Alongside the wickedly amusing takedown of gender norms and the disintegrating of grown-up manners – which see Kinnear sulking and bawling like a baby and he and Marshal turning into squabbling kids – there’s a smart subtext about nature in revolt against human exploitation.

And we’re constantly aware of the tourists’ blundering privilege, their meltdowns witnessed with polite discretion by the hotel cleaner and tightly smiling receptionist. It’s bilious bourgeois crisis impeccably observed, an exuberantly enjoyable collision of snark and spectacle.

To 5 February



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