Romanovs

Livewire Theatre

theSpace on the Mile

From 17 August 2015 to 22 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Livewire Theatre's offering to 2015's Edinburgh Fringe opens in a novel enough fashion, with the entire audience blindfolded and subjected to audial barrage of whispers and sounds, evoking the panic and confusion of the Russian Revolution.

The company then weaves a whimsical and touching exploration of the upheaval and resultant terror and bureaucratic madness through the cypher of a group of incarcerated lunatics believing themselves the deposed Romanovs.

It's a fascinatingly observed means of portraying the atmosphere of disrupted chaos and the clinging to old ways despite all being lost in an occasionally touching and often horrifying manner.

In the midst of all the lunacy, there is a further tale of Anatole Levitsky, the inspector of the refuge, his burgeoning romance with one of the lunatics and his battle with the dictates of his personal friend Lenin and the brutal death squad planning on killing the inmates.

The play is everything you'd expect from a veteran Fringe company like Livewire Theatre, a deeply felt, emotional resonance buried in layers of whispered dread and sonorously declaimed joy.

When the final tragic moments arrive and some semblance of reality begins to seep through the duplicity of madness onstage, it's a gripping and emotionally resonant catharsis for both cast and audience.