The Mystery of the Dyatlov Pass
Acting Coach Scotland
theSpace @ Symposium Hall
In the icy cold of the February storms of 1959, a Russian trekking group took a fatal journey up the slopes of Kholat Syakhl in the northern Ural mountains. Only one of the group survived; Yuri Yudin had turned back due to illness and fatigue a few days earlier, but what happened to the other nine hikers is a mystery that has never yet been fully solved.
Acting Coach Scotland, who previously brought the Fringe I, Sniper, approaches the strange events through a look into the people and the situation, as well as the vying theories that have abounded ever since, introducing the personalities involved, loosely portraying some of the romantic, political and hierarchical schisms in the group, before spinning off into more experimental territory.
The issue with Dyatlov Pass is there’s a definite feeling that the play is throwing a lot of ideas at the wall and not all of them stick, although, ironically, it’s the opening and the latter half of the play that work best, as these bring out overlapping voices, sound effects work and more fourth wall breaking. Without spoiling any of the fun, this part of the proceedings is instantly more captivating and engaging than the rather mundane character drama.
It’s simply unfortunate that the play rather drags during the lengthy early segment where it introduces all of the characters and their relationships. This gets swiftly repetitive, as each one seems to have only a single trait which is repeatedly mentioned and feels like it would have suited a more conventional, dramatic, hypothetical re-enactment piece. Instead, it sits at odds with the rest of the piece, which is far more enthralling, and would have worked better had the whole been riskier, edgier and more confident in itself.
It’s still a fun play on a fascinating topic performed well, with even a dose of live musical accompaniment and traditional Russian song. But, like the real mystery, it may well leave you just a little confounded.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan