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Jun 25th

The Kite Runner, Playhouse Theatre

By Douglas McFarlane

Kite Runner

 

I'd seen the film, and a colleague reviewing for another site had read the book. Both of us sat at opposite ends in the front row of the lovely Playhouse Theatre handy for Embankment Station.

We hadn't realised each other were there until the break. A few weeks earlier we had met on the set of a commercial we were both cast in, and realised through talking that we both lived in the same home town of Teddington. After watching it we were both enthused and motivated to write great reviews as we discussed it in detail going back over the bridge to Waterloo station with fantastic views towards the House Of Parliament and the London Eye.

It's a great night at the theatre and highly recommended from two reviewers.

What's it about ? 

It's a father-son story, to a background of war, touching on bullying and immigration. But most of all it's about friendship. With parallels to Blood Brothers, it tells the story with narration, of two young friends growing up in a household in Afghanistan. Each of them are from different social and religious backgrounds. They both have a love of the sport of kite running and their skill and passion brings them closer together.

Kite Runner's strength is it's story telling. The author had clearly close understanding of the subject and grew up in a similar environment so there has always been some speculation as to it's auto-biographical nature.

This production is brilliant. All carefully considered and thoughtful use of sounds, lights and shadows to represent the story and make it a visual delight from a simple set. A cast that interacts wonderfully with the narration and a beautiful and delicate flow throughout the play showcases the amazing talents of the production and technical team. From the amazing hypnotic sound of the timbala player, to the cast playing notes on some sort of mortar and pestle, to the shadows lighting the background telling part of the story or showing an active crowded backdrop.

There's some great talent in all the cast, many of them having to double up with different characters and actors but each delivering great nuances and visible emotions drawing you into their pain. Especially from the front row. 

There's no doubt the star of the show is David Ahmad. He has a lot of work to do being onstage for the entire play, narrating the story in one tone of voice, then switching to either young or older versions, and displaying a wide range of emotions wonderfully. He does in a subtle way. No big dramatic stage presence or vocal projection was needed. It was almost film acting on stage, where the more subtle your move or facial expression, the better the performance. 

I hope Kite Runner will win some well deserved acclaim and keep running and running. It teaches us a lot about today's modern world. It challenges our relationships with our loved ones as well as strangers. It makes us think about religion, war and the impact they have on real people around the world. Kite Runner manages to be happy, sad and funny and thought-provoking. What more do you want from a West End play.  

Get booking if you want to see it in London because it moves to Glasgow in September and then Brighton.

 

Find tickets on ATG's site.

 

Review by Douglas McFarlane

Jun 23rd

Forced Entertainment and Little Bulb Return to the Battersea Arts Centre

By Carolin Kopplin

 

Tim Etchell's Forced Entertainment returns to the Battersea Arts Centre, as its London home, to reinvent Dirty Work – a performance created nearly 20 years ago, that draws the audience into imaginary performances with casts of thousands. Following closely behind is the creative Little Bulb Theatre who will fill the BAC Courtyard theatre with their joyful musical melodrama, Extravaganza Macabre

DIRTY WORK (THE LATE SHIFT)

By Forced Entertainment

Returning to their 1998 performance Dirty Work, Forced Entertainment have created a new version of the piece that digs deeper into the comical and unsettling territory they established just before the turn of the Millennium.

The new work, Dirty Work (The Late Shift) develops the simple but immensely generative form of described or virtual events and celebrates the power of language to make things happen, co-opting the imaginative capacities of the audience to fill the stage with a delirium of images, scenes and events in bewildering and unnerving succession.

In Dirty Work (The Late Shift) two performers conjure an extraordinary performance in a collaborative and competitive act of description. From vast explosions to sub-atomic particles, with daily life, political interludes, dramas and cabaret turns in between, no event is too large and no image un-stageable for the protagonists, whose game of virtual theatre takes the audience on a roller coaster ride.

From theatrical spectacle to historical events, daily life to impossible feats, cabaret to political speeches, and from sublime beauty to vivid terrors, everything is here, in provocative, intimate and comical style. Accompanied by the sound of piano on a battered record player, Dirty Work (The Late Shift) explores and exposes a world in which real life is so often presented as spectacle.

Listings Information:

Title: Dirty Work (The Late Shift)
Artist/Company: Forced Entertainment
Venue: Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN
Date: 27 Jun – 1 Jul
Time: 7:30pm (Running Time: 85 mins)
Price: £17.50, £15, £12.50 concs
Age Recommendation: 16+
Booking Link:
www.bac.org.uk/dirtywork
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
 

Extravaganza Macabre by Little Bulb Theatre

Little Bulb Theatre returns to Battersea Arts Centre’s new open-air Courtyard this summer to delight family and fun-loving audiences with the joyfully silly production, Extravaganza Macabre, from 4 – 29 July.


A celebration of melodrama, music and mischief set in Victorian London, Extravaganza Macabre was created especially to launch Battersea Arts Centre’s Courtyard last year. Having gone down a treat, the production invites audiences to get up-close to the slapstick action across ground floor and balcony levels, with Pimm’s and picnic hampers chock-full of British favourites available to add to the summertime experience. 

Extravaganza Macabre tells a tale of two passionate lovers separated by a freak storm which leaves their fate in the clutches of a scheming villain set on keeping them apart forever. With only a clairvoyant maid and a loyal urchin to come to their rescue, a whirlwind of plot twists, original music hall numbers and audience interaction ensues, recommended for ages eight and up. 

The new 75m2 Courtyard is a unique and intimate space nestled at the heart of Battersea Arts Centre’s beautiful old town hall building. Designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Haworth Tompkins, the Courtyard was inspired by the radical Teatro Oficina in São Paulo, Brazil. With walls made from a bold mix of old red and shiny white bricks, trapdoors and surprise entrances and exits spread across three levels add to the 360 degree, open-air fun. The auditorium levels, made by Steeldeck, form the UK’s most intimate open-air theatre structure. 

Listings Information:

Title: Extravaganza Macabre

Artist/Company: Little Bulb Theatre

Venue: Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN

Date: 4 – 29 July

Time: 7:30pm | Saturday Matinees 2:30pm

Price: Stalls (Seated) £20 - £25 | Balcony (Standing) £10 - £15

Booking Link: www.bac.org.uk/extravaganza

Box Office: 020 7223 2223

Jun 13th

Dreamboats & Petticoats - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

Do you wanna dance? If the answer is “yes” then the King’s Theatre, Glasgow is the place to be this week where the 1960’s juke box musical, Dreamboats & Petticoats, makes its triumphant return as part of its current UK tour.

Dreamboats started life as a series of compilation albums featuring hit songs from the likes of Roy Orbison, Neil Sedaka, Connie Francis, Chubby Checker, to name but a few. Music of this era has been successfully imitated on stage in musicals such as Grease and Hairspray but the songs that gave inspiration for these shows now have their own vehicle in this musical which is jam packed with over 40 of some of the greatest chart toppers of the 1960’s.   Included among these treasures are To Know Him Is To Love Him, Bobby’s Girl, The Great Pretender and Let’s Twist Again. The score also features a couple of original songs written especially for the production, which you would find hard to believe that weren’t standards of the era.

The plot is streamlined in order to join this musical cavalcade together.  We are transported back to a time before snapchat, fidget spinners, bottle flipping and dabbing when being a teenager meant you went to your local youth club to play rock and roll (or table tennis) and learned how to deal with the turmoil that is young love.  Schoolboy Bobby (Alistair Higgins) longs for an electric guitar so that he can join a band to impress the older and sassy Sue (Laura Darton).  Sue has her eye set on the band’s newest front man, Norman (Alastair Hill) but his attention is purely focused on himself.  Meanwhile schoolgirl Laura (Elizabeth Carter) wants to be Bobby’s girl.

Alistair Higgins is an endearing Bobby with the warm baritone of a young Elvis Presley and the tender falsetto of Frankie Valli.  Elizabeth Carter is a sweet Laura with a voice that could melt even the coldest heart.  Laura Darton and Alistair Hill are matched well in a relationship reminiscent of Kenikie and Rizzo in Grease.  Jimmy Johnston, who you might recognize as playing Will Parker in the filmed production of the National Theatre’s ‘Oklahoma’, holds proceedings together in his dual roles of Bobby’s dad and older Bobby.

The principals are also supported by an amazing quadruple threat company who not only play minor characters, but are also the fantastic onstage band, often playing instruments and dancing at the same time.  They also provide backing vocals throughout the show.  Two songs in the production are performed a cappella by the full company and the results are heavenly.  This production is to be highly commended for its use of live music.

The design is simple but effective making use of album covers and advertisements of the era.

The audience members at Monday evening’s performance lapped all this up and were up on their feet, dancing, singing and cheering along to the rousing finale.

Dreamboats & Petticoats

Monday, 12th June - Saturday, 17th, June

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Jun 13th

NEW SUMMER SEASON AT THE FINBOROUGH THEATRE

By Carolin Kopplin

The new Summer Season features two premieres of new writing and two rediscoveries. The two new plays – Continuity by new Northern Irish playwright Gerry Moynihan and the European premiere of Dolphins and Sharks from new African-American playwright James Anthony Tyler – were both originally seen as staged readings as part of Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. The two rediscoveries are Just To Get Married by renowned suffragette Cicely Hamilton, first performed in 1910 and last seen in London in 1918; and Windows by John Galsworthy, which premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 1922.

 

The season opens with the first London production in over a hundred years of Just To Get Married, a romantic comedy by renowned suffragette Cicely Hamilton, playing for a four week limited season from 25 July-19 August 2017. It runs concurrently with the world premiere of Continuity by new playwright Gerry Moynihan, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between 30 July-13 August 2017.

 

The season continues with the first professional UK production in 85 years of Windows by John Galsworthy, directed by Geoffrey Beevers, well known for his work at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Described by its author as “a comedy for idealists and others”, Windows plays from a three week limited season from 22 August-9 September 2017.

The season concludes with the European premiere from new African-American playwright James Anthony Tyler, Dolphins and Sharks plays for a three week limited season from 12 September-30 September 2017.

 

Elsewhere, two sell-out Finborough Theatre productions transfer in June: Incident At Vichy by Arthur Miller transfers to the King’s Head Theatre from 7-25 June 2017; and My Eyes Went Dark by Matt Wilkinson transfers to 59E59 Theaters, New York City, from 7 June - 2 July 2017.

 

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson said: "Our new Summer Season is evenly balanced between our artistic policy’s twin strands – to present essential new writing, alongside genuinely unique rediscoveries. We have also just relaunched our Friends Scheme, making it even easier to support our award winning work.”

 

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Photo credit: KinoLOWRES

May 31st

A Judgement in Stone @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

A Judgement in Stone Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

As a jobbing actor I know only too well that to be able to keep working in the business is extremely tough, particularly for middle-aged women when the unemployment rate is 95%!  The balance of male to female roles is about 3 to 1, so to find a play with several good roles for women is rare. Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, Bill Kenwright’s new  company The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, seeks to redress the balance with a new production adapted from one of the most celebrated works of the writer often hailed as the successor to Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement In Stone.

Rendell was first published in 1964 and was awarded a CBE in 1996. Her prolific output included film and TV as well as 80 novels and one of the genre’s most famous characters, Chief Inspector Wexford. Widely considered to be one of Rendell’s greatest works, A Judgement in Stone is loved for its brilliant rendering of character, plot and motive, and is undoubtedly Rendell at her thrilling best.

Featuring an all star cast, Sophie Ward (Young Sherlock Holmes; Heartbeat) stars as Eunice Parchman who struggles to fit in. When she joins a wealthy family as their housekeeper the very reason for her awkwardness, long hidden and deeply buried, leads inexorably to a terrible tale of murder in cold blood - on Valentine’s Day. Ruth Rendell’s brilliant plot unravels a lifetime of deceit, despair and cover-ups which, when revealed, brings a shocking revelation almost as ghastly as murder itself.

Attempting to solve the crime is Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street; The Bill), as Detective Superintendent Vetch, ably accompanied by Ben Nealon as Detective Sergeant Challoner, who gives a convincing performance as the observant side-kick.  Former 60s pop idol Mark Wynter plays the pompous George Coverdale, married to his second wife, Jacqueline (Rosie Thomson), who, with the two youngsters Giles (Joshua Price) and Melinda (Jennifer Sims), all meet a gruesome end.

The play opens with the arrival of the detectives, then features flashbacks as we meet all the characters in the days leading up to the crime.  There are lots of cross-over entrances and exits, which can be hard to follow at times, but generally it works.  Suspects Deborah Grant (Not Going Out; Bergarac) is very energetic as the bible-bashing Joan Smith, with Blue band-mate Antony Costa ‘givin’ it large’ as the ex-criminal gardener and Shirley Anne Field (The Entertainer; Saturday Night Sunday Morning) as the elderly cleaner usurped by the arrival of the new housekeeper.

The production is directed by Roy Marsden who is best known as an actor, particularly in his role as Commander Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV's P.D. James series, which he played for 15 years. His recent work for Bill Kenwright includes directing a UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Small Hand and the debut production for The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, Rehearsal For Murder.

If you enjoy a good ‘Whodunnit’ featuring actors you know, then this may appeal to you.  Personally, I found the play a bit too melodramatic at times, but to give Bill Kenwright his due he really does keep a lot of actors employed and continues to give audiences choices.

Performances at The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury:       

Tue 30 May – Sat 3 Jun

                                        Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm, Wed, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office:                         0844 871 7607 (Bkg fee. Calls 7p per min plus phone company’s access charge)

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614

Access Booking:               0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

Online Booking:               www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (Bkg fee)

 

A JUDGEMENT IN STONE - UK TOUR DATES 2017

Mon 5 – Sat 10 June                                                                          

Palace Theatre, Southend                                                                 

 

Mon 12 – Sat 17 June                                                                        

Derby Theatre, Derby                                                                       


Mon 19 – Sat 24 June                                                                        

Theatre Royal, Glasgow      

                                                               

Mon 26 June – Sat 1 July                                                                   

New Victoria Theatre, Woking                                                          


Mon 3 – Sat 8 July                                                                               

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

                                                    

Mon 10 – Sat 15 July                                                                          

Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate                                                          


Mon 17 – Sat 22 July                                                         
               

Regent Theatre, Stoke                                                                       

 

Mon 24 – Sat 29 July                                                                         

Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes                                           


Mon 31 July – Sat 5 August                                                               

Theatre Royal, Newcastle                                                                  

 

Tues 19 – Sat 23 September                                                             

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry                                                              

 

Mon 25 – Sat 30 September                                                             

Orchard Theatre, Dartford                                                                

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

30.5.17

@yvonnedelahaye

May 12th

Grease The Musical at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

Review by Christopher Lowe

Grease is the word this spring at the King's Theatre Glasgow as David Gilmore directs this production of the smash hit musical.

It's 1959 and America is teetering on the brink of liberation driven by the power of rock 'n' roll and sexual freedom.  Tough guy, Danny Zuko, meets angelic Sandy Dumbrowski for some summer luvin' over the school holidays. When back at high school, things don’t seem so sweet as Danny tries to play it cool in front of his mates. After much frustration and determination, Sandy decides to put on those leather trousers and flashy red heels and she decides to grab her man.

As one of the most famous and loved musicals Grease is hardly a show that needs headline names to succeed.

“The Wanted” star, Tom Parker, appears in his element in the iconic role of Danny; full of charisma and rebellious charm. He works incredibly well with his partner, Danielle Hope; both with stunning vocals and fantastic theatre presence.

Eastender,Louisa Lytton, plays Rizzo with great success and her previous experience as an actress comes to the fore in this key dramatic role.

The cast members all had great energy throughout the performance. Everything about the show was a real trip down memory lane either for fans of the 70’s movie or fans of the original era! The choreography was on point, the character portrayals were terrific, the lighting was mesmerizing and the music was,as you would expect, crazily catchy.

By the end of the evening the audience were all singing and dancing and having such a great time. It is a very enjoyable, fun and energetic production. I would find it very difficult to believe that anyone would not be pleased with this show. It is a classic and you can't go wrong!

Grease The Musical

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Tues 9 May-Sat 20 May

Mon-Thu eves, 7.30pm

Fri, 5.30pm & 8.30pm

Sat, 5pm & 8.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

 Images by Paul Coltas courtesy of Ambassadors Theatre Group

May 11th

King of Pop - The Legend Continues

By Yvonne Delahaye

King of Pop - The Legend Continues Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

It’s an astonishing 8 years since the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson died tragically from a drugs overdose, administered by his physician Conrad Murray who was subsequently charged with ‘involuntary manslaughter.’  The worldwide outpouring of grief at the loss of such an icon hadn’t been seen since Princess Diana’s death in 1997.  MJ was a singer, songwriter, dancer, producer and philanthropist whose contribution to music, dance and fashion made him a global superstar for over 40 years.  His album Thriller is still the best selling album of all time, selling over 65 million copies worldwide.

Tribute acts have to work incredibly hard to sound like the artist they’re portraying, but to also get the facial looks of MJ, Navi must have gone to extraordinary lengths to look like his idol.  MJ actually used Navi to promote albums/concerts or act as a decoy for him to avoid the relentless pursuit of press and fans.  MJ hired Navi to sing at two of his birthday parties and gave him a standing ovation, describing his performance as ‘incredible’, so that personal endorsement gives him the credibility fans crave to ensure MJ will never be forgotten.  Navi is regarded as the ‘World’s No 1 MJ Tribute’ and has been touring his MJ show for 28 years.

This tour features MJ’s incredible guitarist, Jennifer Batten, who toured with MJ on three sell-out world tours.  Initially hand-picked to play on the Bad tour, MJ was so impressed that she joined him on the road for the next 10 years, playing on his Dangerous and History tours to more than 4.5 million fans worldwide.

It was good to see families in the auditorium, with very small children who weren’t even born when MJ was alive.  The ages in the theatre looked as though they spanned eight decades, which is testament to the enduring, all encompassing appeal of his music.

Navi’s a good entertainer and engages the audience chatting to us throughout the show and making jokes.  There were clearly a few problems with his mic and ear piece in the first half, which meant he was a bit drowned out by the band, but thankfully those issues were all resolved in the second half.  Then we were able to really appreciate his vocals and feel we were actually watching a real MJ concert, as he sang some of my favourites Bad, Thriller, Black and White, Billie Jean, Man in the Mirror and the lovely You Are Not Alone with everyone on their feet clapping, singing and dancing along.

Opening the show could perhaps have been a bit more spectacular, to build some excitement and anticipation of Navi’s arrival rather than him just coming on from the side maybe some smoke, lights arriving from the back centre stage would be more effective. It would also have been good to see more of MJ’s iconic ‘Moondance’, but it didn’t spoil the overall enjoyment  and a good time was had by all!

For tour details and bookings go to. www.atgtickets.com

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

10.5.17

 

@yvonnedelahaye

May 10th

Miss Meena and the Masala Queens at Watford Palace Theatre.

By Trevor Gent

Dazzling saris, grand Bollywood lip-sync dance numbers and adoring fans are now a distant memory for Miss Meena. The once famous drag queen has lost his sparkle and like his nightclub is washed up and out of date. The punters have gone and whilst the other drag queens are strutting high heels elsewhere, property developers are circling like vultures waiting for Miss Meena to give up the lease on the run down club. 

A new arrival brings a glittery rainbow of hope. But just as things are starting to look up for Miss Meena, a visitor from the past questions everything he stands for. The action is set in and around a drag nightclub for young Asian men in Birmingham. Although not a musical there is music and dancing in this colourful production.

The pressure of family loyalties and commitments are laid bare and cause confusion in various characters but primarily in Miss Meena (aka Abdul) and also Shaan, the 19 year old run away he takes in from the street seeing similarities from his own family situation.

 

Miss Meena and Shaan

It is sometimes slow and disjointed but there is humour and you really root for the two aspiring drag queens (rather unkindly nicknamed Pinky and Perky by Munni). This character has a few ideas of his own and takes advantage after the death of Miss Meenas father. This event closes the first act and leaves you feeling a bit flat.

The second act opens with the funeral and Abdul (Miss Meena) guilt ridden.  He tries to make amends and even agrees to an arranged marriage but with support from his friends at the club and eventually even his brother he returns to the club and starts again.

Essentially this is a story about having the courage to be who you are and it even throws in ‘I am what I am’ from La Cage Aux Folles in the glitzy finale. The mainly Asian audience enthusiastically applauded and were obviously familiar with the songs and dances but this may not suit everyone.

 

Miss Meena Dance 

Playing at:

Watford Palace Theatre from 5th to 13th May.

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry from 16th to 20th May.

Greenwich Theatre, London from 24th to 27th May.

Theatre Royal, Windsor from 30th May to 3rd June

NST Campus Southampton from 6th to 10th June

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds from 13th to 17th June.

 

Reviewed by Trevor Gent

Photos Credited to David Fisher

May 10th

Lost - an evening of new writing in Bristol

By G.D. Mills

This week the Alma Theatre Tavern hosts a trio of new plays from three award winning writers. OK, two award-winning writers and a compulsive liar.

'City' by Pippa Gladhill is a hard-boiled tale of noir fantasies, improbable chess moves and unrequited love. Homeless gumshoe Frank faces his toughest case yet: a missing canine, a demolition site and a hostile security force. But he always has a plan...

'The Pasta Machine' by Andy Alderson is set in the flaming wreckage of a relationship. As Poppy arrives to collect her things from Tim's flat, she finds him drunk and primed for battle. Acrimony, betrayal and kitchenware feature heavily in a play that critics are describing as "New" and "20-25 minutes long".



'Dummy' by Andrzej Wawrowski is a twisted comedy-drama about unhinged children's entertainer Dennis Turp. From humble beginnings on the local circuit, Dennis has taken his show – with 'co-star' Charlie Chimpington – to the top. Now, as America awaits, the pressure is on. With a Machiavellian girlfriend, an ineffectual agent and a toy monkey with ambitions of his own, Dennis is cracking up.



Like Mr Tumble directed by The League of Gentlemen. Welcome to the dark side of light entertainment.

They will be performed at the Alma Theare Tavern on the 11th, 12th and 13th of May. Visit the website here for tickets and more details:

http://www.almatavernandtheatre.co.uk/theatreWhatsOnMin1.php

Images: Andy Alderson

May 8th

Voices from Chernobyl at the Jack Studio Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Karina Knapinska

 These people had already seen what for everyone else is still unknown. I felt like I was recording the future. (Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl)

I still remember the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in April, 1986. We were still in the middle of the cold war with Russia so very little information was shared. I lived in Munich at that time and we were warned by our government to avoid fresh milk for several weeks, venison and mushrooms - anything from the forest - for several years. And Bavaria is quite a distance from Ukraine. People in Ukraine were not warned. They continued eating fruit, vegetables, and dairy from their villages because the produce looked fine. After all radiation is invisible.

In the early to mid-1990s, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich collected hundreds of stories from people living in villages near Chernobyl when the catastrophe happened - the wives of the firefighters who sacrificed themselves to save others, scientists, government officials, and ordinary people whose lives were changed forever. 

Director Germán D’Jesús adapted Keith Gessen's translation of Svetlana Alexievich's book for the stage and his 60-minute play, produced by Ténéré Arte, is currently running at the Jack Studio Theatre.

April 26, 1986. People in the towns near Chernobyl are going about their daily business when an explosion destroys a reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Station. The government quickly tries to cover up the catastrophe whilst firefighters and workers are dying of radiation poisoning because they are spending far more than the allotted time in the radioactive environment, working without any protection. More than 600,000 fire-fighters and emergency workers are called in from all over the Soviet Union to put out the fire. Tourists arrive to look at the spectacle and the locals continue eating their contaminated produce whilst government officials do nothing to discourage them. When severely deformed babies are born, some with missing organs, others with missing or additional limbs, the extent of the catastrophe starts to sink in.

Oleg Sidorchik

The play, featuring a dedicated cast of six actors, lends a voice to the victims of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Whilst the government was more concerned about protecting the state from the enemies of socialism than about the safety of its own people, many perished before they were finally evacuated from the contaminated areas, and the radioactive cloud moved on to bring contamination and death to other parts of eastern Europe, particularly Belarus, where Svetlana Alexievich was born.

The actors speak both English and Russian, which lends authenticity to the production. The cast all play a variety of roles but they still manage to create empathy for their characters. A newlywed young woman talks about how she could not even hold the hand of her dying husband because he was contaminated. A scientist describes the complete disorganization and disinformation after the explosion. And a worker talks about cleaning up the contaminated debris after the fire was put out, without a care for his own safety.

An unflinching and unsentimental account of one of the worst nuclear disasters.       

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 13th May 2017

Jack Studio Theatre

Running time: 60 minutes

In English and Russian (all Russian parts are accompanied by surtitles)

Photo credit Jack Studio Theatre.