DONKEY HEART to 31 January.


by Moses Raine.

Trafalgar Studios (Studio 2) 14 Whitehall SW1A 2DY To 31 January 2015.
Mon–Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 871 7632.
Review: William Russell 8 January.

From Russia with love, humour and a touch of sadness.
Some things do not change in Russia. In a Moscow flat today live three generations of a family – grandfather Alexander, who survived the siege of Leningrad, son Ivan and his wife Zhenya who survived the Stalin KGB years, with their two sons and daughter, part of the world after glasnost. Elder son Petya is trying to dodge the draft, daughter Sasha has invited Thomas, an English student, to stay. Zhenya is downtrodden and Ivan has invited his PA, Natalia, who has lost her flat, to stay. Alexander looks back to the past, laments his long lost other son, and offers unwanted advice to all.

It is a tense world. Maybe the security services no longer spy, neighbours no longer make false allegations to the authorities, but something is amiss. Sasha is neurotic, unsure whether the English boy, a non-Russian speaking innocent abroad is the love of her life and obsessed with finding-out whatever her father is up to and confronting him and her mother with it. Tom is naïve, Natalia clearly playing some double, if not triple, game. The action flows and the revelations are not what one expects.

Moses Raine’s play, premiered last year at the Old Red Lion with virtually the same cast, is very funny, yet also desperately sad because this is a family in crisis for all sorts of reasons. One is that Alexander turns-out a serial adulterer, something the passive Zhenya has put up with for years, but which their children do no know.

Lisa Diveney’s Sasha is all nervous tension, a girl desperately unhappy with her lot, while Alex Large’s Thomas is gloriously, blokeishly dense. New cast-member Amanda Root is touching as the mother who is making a not very successful best of a bad job, while Paul Wyett catches Ivan’s brutal selfishness to perfection.

But there is good work from all, especially Patrick Godfrey as Alexander remembering a past the others do not want to know about and seeing in his youngest grandson Kolya the child he lost long ago. This first-rate play, charming, sad and absorbing, is beautifully directed by Nina Raine.

Alexander: Patrick Godfrey.
Sasha: Lisa Diveney.
Ivan: Paul Wyett.
Thomas: Alex Large.
Kolya: Pierre Atrie/Albie Marber.
Clara: Georgia Henshaw.
Petya: James Musgrove.
Zhenya: Amanda Root.
Natalia: Emily Bruni.

Director: Nina Raine.
Designer: James Turner.
Lighting: Peter Mumford.
Sound: Alex Caplen.

2015-01-09 11:28:39

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