Co-directed by Mark Espiner & Dan Jones
Written by Bryony Lavery
Liverpool Everyman (12th - 15th May 2010)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Despite almost unanimous critical acclaim by the national press, I - forgive the pun - was underwhelmed by this production.

It is based around the Russian submarine disaster in 2000, in which the Kursk - the mighty vessel of the country's naval fleet - sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea, following an on-board explosion, leading to the deaths of more than one hundred and twenty sailors.

On a set which completely transformed the appearance of the Everyman stage into a reconstruction of the inside of a British sub, members of the audience were allowed to position themselves almost anywhere on the stage and walk to different vantage points if they so desired.

It was gimmickry and disconcerting to see non-actors mingling with the cast, particularly given the gravity and focus of the story. What was the point of it?

Having watched 'Das Boot' - the classic film of a German U-Boat - on a number of occasions, my expectations of submarine-based drama are perhaps too high, but nevertheless, there was little tension or human emotions at breaking point apparent in this production.

The circumstances which led to the sinking of the sub was confined to the final fifteen minutes or so of this ninety minute piece, with no indication why the Russian vessel did not appeal for help. Preceding the tragic events there was endless dialogue involving the British sailors wanting to get home and the coxswain quoting W H Auden's 'Atlantis' - a highly unlikely scenario - and the obligatory messages from family members from home - "I miss you Daddy", etc.

The acting was a big letdown,with the captain (played by Laurence Mitchell) in particular, unconvincing in his role.

I did truly want this to be a highly charged, spectacular and memorable play but was sorely disappointed.

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