Beethoven in Stalingrad

Jesper Arin

Arin Production / Teateri

Greenside @ Nicolson Square

From 04 August 2017 to 19 August 2017

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

It's a surprisingly informal start to a play when Jesper Arin welcomes the audience onto the stage, handing out programmes himself with a friendly smile, as Ian Peaston tunes up his violin and fiddles with a laptop.

On the bare, black space, some dozen or so letters and assorted props are arranged in a circle, like a clockface. With the barest of introductions, he tells us that Peaston will play remixed segments of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.23 in F Minor.

The musical accompaniment deserves a special mention, as it serves as both background thematic texture and diagetic music in a stunning moment of virtuosic humanity.

From there, the transformation begins as Arin takes up a letter and begins to read the real words of young German soldiers, written from the charnel house that was Stalingrad.

These fathers, brothers, sons and husbands yell their pitiful lamentations or furious spite across the years, as Arin changes mercurially into each role, while piece by piece dressing in their garb.

By the end of the performance, he stands fully garbed in period uniform; as he delivered the final hammer-blow truth of the piece, there was a chill, despite the Edinburgh August heat.