by Pavel Pryazhko translated by Sasha Dugdale.
Ustinov Studio Theatre Royal Sawclose BA1 1 To 11 April 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 01225 448844.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 April.
A piece on the fault-line between comedy and metaphor.
Four young adults are picking apples – suspended temptingly on wires in designer Madeleine Girling’s elegantly pastoral, stylised setting. It’s in the post-picking process the trouble begins. One of the women fears she’s let-through a less than perfect apple. It has to be located. Crates have to be moved. But they’re old crates and start breaking, tumbling apples all over the floor, with the risk of more bruising and imperfections.
Mending a crate proves disastrous. Fingers holding nails are at risk; asthma attacks. If something can go wrong, it does. For want of a nail – or the skill to hammer it home – the whole job goes rotten.
Then there’s the sex. Or, there isn’t. Smiles and sinuous movements from the women, a certain nervous formality among the men, suggest sexual readiness. But these people end-up getting on with the job, then leaving. In a sense, nothing happens, however busy everyone is. Nothing’s said, though a lot’s spoken. And the characters end confused, movement patterns become irregular, as personal preoccupations increase.
Michael Boyd’s production brings to this bright rural retreat, with its undefined context, the detailed definition he brought to the vastly greater canvas of late medieval warfare in his cycle of the History Plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Each character has a sense of a life, if no biographical background, the sense of living through the day if no future in mind.
Is this the state of life in the state of Belarus, notoriously Europe’s last-remaining dictatorship? While the artists of Belarus Free Theatre have moved abroad to depict the violent anarchy of government control, Belarus free playwright Pavel Pryazhko is the quiet one who’s stayed behind.
It may be the youth of Belarus would see his play in a particular way. The confusions, the standardised expectations of an apple, the sudden emergency, the unspoken suggestions of body language, are all things which might assemble in a specific, recognisable way back home.
The playing at the Ustinov is both energetically detailed and suffused with the languor of the situation, the four distinct characters bound together in their unquestioned occupation.
Egor: Dafydd Llyr Thomas.
Ira: Beth Park.
Valerii: Dyfan Dwyfor.
Lyuba: Lindsey Campbell.
Director: Michael Boyd.
Designer: Madeleine Girling.
Lighting: Charles Balfour.
Sound: Richard Cooper.
Fight director: Terry King.