THE MASTER AND MARGARITA
by Mikhail Bulgakov adapted by Simon McBurney, Edward Kemp and the Company.
Barbican Theatre Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 19 January 2013.
BSL Signed 8 Jan.
Runs: 3hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 120 7550.
Review: Carole Woddis 2 January.
Grand magic of words and images.
For Russian writers, words have the power to overcome tyranny. And there can be no greater testament to their power and magic than Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita as one of the finest, most poignant examples of artistic immortality. Simon McBurney’s Complicite production also makes it one of the most thrilling as `The Master’, Bulgakov’s alter ego, and Margarita, the woman who has gone through hell, literally, for him, ride off into the sunset on a white charger created entirely through perspective-shifting video projections.
It’s a typically electrifying trompe d’oeil climax to a production returning after a sell-out run last year with some cast changes, that scales the heights but also sometimes leaves ordinary mortals flailing in its wake. For the first half at least McBurney keeps up a hectic performing pace, mirroring the hysteria and political devilry abroad in Bulgakov’s time in Stalin’s USSR – a world of sudden executions, disappearances, persecution and clamping artistic repression. All this passes in a whirlwind of activity as scenes elide from public squares to hospital clinics, tramways and Pontius Pilate’s Jerusalem – the latter offering a recurring theme of agonised debate with a naked Jesus, before receiving his ultimate forgiveness and release.
Indeed, in McBurney and Complicite’s version, unlike Steve Pimlott’s terrific, clear-sighted account eight years ago at Chichester, (they share the same adapter, the excellent Ed Kemp) The Master and Margarita emerges as a more Christian and Good versus Evil exploration than previously. McBurney’s vision is more bizarre, more rooted in Russian iconography, more frenziedly satirical and sometimes less comprehensible.
But there is no doubting its visual impact or the physical brilliance of the Complicite ensemble led in a stunning tour de force by Paul Rhys, doubling as the despairing writer and a gravel-voiced, terrifyingly black-garbed devil figure, Woland, and Susan Lynch as the self-sacrificing and also naked Margarita.
Having lain undiscovered and published for more than a quarter century after his death, the novel that everyone said was impossible to stage has now defied its cassandras and become a magnificent theatrical embodiment of its creator’s artistic faith and credo.
The Master: Paul Rhys.
Margarita: Susan Lynch.
Natasha: Amanda Hadingue.
Ivan Nikolayich Bezdomny/ Matthew the Livite: Richard Katz.
Aloysius Mogarych: Robert Luckay.
Anna/Female Orderly/Frieda: Josie Daxter.
Frightened little boy: Josie Daxter/Yasuyo Mochizuki.
Woman in booth: Amanda Hadingue.
Koroviev Faggot: Toby Sedgwick.
Azazello: Ajay Naidu.
Behemoth, the cat: Tamzin Griffin/Josie Daxter/ Yasuyo Mochizuki/Clive Mendus.
Voice of Behemoth: Tamzin Griffin/Amanda Hadingue.
Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz/Stepan Bogdanovich/Archibald Archibalovich: Clive Mendus.
Ariman: Thomas Arnold.
Lapshenikova/Niza: Amanda Hadingue.
Glukharyov/Mark Muribellum: Johannes Flaschberger.
Quant/Dr Stravinsky/Pilate’s Secretary/ Caiphas/Afranius: David Annen.
Beskudnikova: Tamzin Griffin.
Sofa Pavlovna/Super Lightning Telegraphist: Yasuyo Mochizuki.
Ryukhin/Yeshua Ha-Notsri: Cesar Sarachu.
Nurse Praskovya Fyodorovna/Archibaldova: Tamzin Griffin
Male Orderly/Judas of Kariot: Robert Luckey.
Grigory Danilovich Rimsky: Thomas Arnold.
Varenukha: Johannes Flaschberger.
Timothy Tap: Cesar Sarachu.
Frieda: Josie Daxter
Pontius Pilate: Tim McMullan.
Director: Simon McBurney
Designer: Es Devlin.
Costume: Christina Cunningham.
Lighting: Paul Anderson.
Sound: Gareth Fry.
Video: Finn Ross.
3D Animation: Luke Halls (Third Company Ltd).
Puppetry: Blind Summit Theatre.
Associate director: James Yeatman.
Associate kighting: Matt Haskins.
Associate sound: Kay Basson.
Associate video: Adam Young.
Assistant director: Sasha Milavic Davies
Co-produced by Complicite, the Barbican London, Les Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, Wiener Festwochen, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Festival d’Avignon in association with Theatre Royal Plymouth
The Master and Margarita was first performed at Theatre Royal Plymouth in Nov, 2011, then toured to Les Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg. In 2012, the prod played the Barbican London, Festival de Otoño en Primavera, Madrid; Wiener Festwochen; Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen; Holland Festival; Festival d’Avignon and Grec Festival Barcelona.
It plays at MC93 Bobigny from 2-9 February 2013.