Badac Theatre Company
The story of Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist assassinated in 2006, is one that needs to be told. Badac has chosen to really immerse the audience in the story, performing in a corridor with the actors right next to the audience.
It starts as a very intense experience, beginning with being marshalled down a lift and into a white corridor. However the script lacks much detail of Anna's life and the deafening shouting of the male actors, while important to get across the harsh nature of the regime, is so relentless that it ceased to be immersive and became simply an endurance test.
How to portray a really awful, true story is a serious matter for debate. Of course it is important to give the audience a little taste of the suffering, however the shouting and swearing rather took over the play at he expense of hearing about Anna, her writing and her achievements.
Marnie Baxter as Anna and Saskia Schuck, as several different grieving women, both deliver really moving performances. The script did give Schuck some very good monologues, including one about the 2002 Moscow theatre siege. The device of repeating particular words though seemed slightly unneccessary, as if trying a little too hard to make a point.
Now there is an argument that the subject matter requires a brutal method of retelling to get its point across. In fact though a quieter, more subtle piece might have had more psychological impact. Some of the visual elements of this piece, for instance the ending, were quite shocking by themselves. The use of the long white corridor was good too, although the figure of Putin continually lunging at one end was rather distracting.
A really challenging play, which will certainly hit some audience members quite hard, but could tone down the shouting and have a little more journalism to create a more interesting and really political piece.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin