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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

I visited Ukraine nine years ago, nineteen years after the break-up of the Soviet Union. It was obvious then that it was a very divided country, half looking east to Russia and half west to the EU. Who’d have thought it would be like that here six years later! Four years after my visit things came to a head with a revolution centred on Independence Square in Kiev, near to where I’d been staying for the second part of the trip. This extraordinary show recreates that revolution, five years later, under the arches at Waterloo station, named in memory of another battle almost exactly 200 years before.

Like all revolutions, this one starts with a meal, with vodka, obviously. The bonhomie lulls us into a false sense of security, with food, drink, music and dancing. Our narrator, a Canadian with some Ukrainian heritage, tells us how he found himself caught up in the revolution. The narrative is sketchy, but the atmosphere is extraordinary. Projections along two long sides of the space connect us with the real events of 2014. The small cast and audience move around the space building barricades from pallets and tyres, carrying shields, wearing flags.

The traditional music adds much to the creation of something which felt surprisingly authentic and totally engaging. Facts are projected to conclude the story with a return to reality as the cast from Ukraine, Belarus, Canada and the UK introduce themselves, including Mark & Marichka Marczyks, whose real experiences are at the heart of the piece. It’s staged by the founders of the inspirational Belarus Free Theatre, Natalia Kaliada & Nicolai Khalezin. This is thrilling theatre that must be seen and you have until 17th March to do so!

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Just four days after my return from Ukraine, and for the second day running, I find myself at a play set in Ukraine; and this was not planned!

This one covers events during the First World War when the country changes from a part of tsarist Russia to German occupation to independence to the pro-tzarist White Guard of the title to Bolshevik Russia in an alarmingly short period which must have seemed like anarchy at the time.

This is a terrific adaptation of Bugalov’s novel / play and a terrific production that only the National could do. It’s such a fascinating piece of history and the twists and turns of the play reflect the realities of the real events. It probably sounds heavy but it’s far from it – Andrew Upton, whilst being faithful to his source, has produced an accessible fresh adaptation which moves from tragic to cynical to funny seamlessly, but never lets up on showing the pointlessness of it all.

There are some great performances and it’s brilliantly staged by Howard Davies on Bunny Christie’s extraordinary sets that take you from apartment to palace to school to army camp and back to apartment – and there are special effects that make you jump!

What the NT is for…..

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