Nottingham Playhouse To 8 July 2011.
Runs: 1hr 10min No interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 7 July.

Even produced under ideal conditions, you’d say this was splendid.
Discover Love, from Belarus Free Theatre, is a bit of Nottingham’s recent Neat11 theatre festival that for the worst of reasons got broken off from the main event. It seems that most of the company were under house-arrest in Belarus and/or had exit permission withdrawn when they were originally due to travel to Nottingham.

The wait was worth it. Even had it been produced under ideal conditions – and it certainly wasn’t – you’d say this was splendid.

Which isn’t to say that it’s problem-free. In the last part, when it moves away from the personal and addresses itself overtly to international human rights in general, it almost stops being a play and becomes, however worthy, a didactic diatribe. In overall terms, however, this is an immensely engaging piece.

And it’s quite different from most of what we’re used to in England. The acting is more physical, more direct – some would say, less pretentious. Three actors (no programme with cast list was available), two of whom play many characters, make clever use of an elemental set and range of props to tell the story of – it’s an appalling euphemism – a “disappearance”.

A teacher, Anatoly, is one day taken off the street and obliterated by his own government. For most of the play he’s actually a supporting character of the protagonist, Irina. She steps in and out of the action to take us through her life from childhood to adulthood, when she meets and marries Anatoly.

There’s more reliance on narration than is normal in English theatre but Irina’s story is so intensely human, at times joyous and touching, that we’re caught up in it.

Based on fact, the play is dedicated to the memory of Dimitriy Zavadskiy.

Cast and credits not available – see review for a possible reason.

2011-07-11 01:28:23

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