Presented by Burjesta Theatre
The Casa, Liverpool
20th, 21st, 24th, 25th October 2017
Reviewed by Finvola Dunphy
This October sees the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Burjesta’s recent production commemorates the events that took place, shedding light on this politically tumultuous time in history. ‘Revolution’ complements Red October, which is a conglomeration of socialist events tackling historic miscarriages of political and social justice.
Showcased in the Liverpool’s fringe theatre, ‘The Casa’, the production fully utilised this intimate setting with its multilevel performance space to convey the power struggles of 20th century Russia.
The show is based on eye witness accounts from a range of sources including Tsarist diaries and Leon Trotsky’s Bolshevik accounts. The ambitious feat of tackling such complex historic events without the use of costume, scenery, and with minimal props, left the actors totally exposed. They were wholly responsible for conveying the intensity of emotions on all sides of the Revolution, and did so with stunning focus and confident physical movement.
The use of a Greek-style chorus and music from the time provided another layer of dynamics and complemented the strong performances, bringing authenticity and life to the stage.
Large guns were some of the few props used and were carefully integrated into the performance. Their sheer size stood out amidst the black backdrop and costume emphasising their power and impact especially when in the wrong hands.
The crowning glory (no pun intended) of this production was the seamless transition between conversational scenes and well-known political events. The multi-level platforms were fully embraced with powerful speeches being delivered on higher ground, juxtaposed with the peasant’s pleas for bread below. This use of levelling evoked empathetic responses – honouring the Russian working class in its portrayal of hierarchical injustices.
The overthrowing of the Tsarist autocracy was brilliantly marked with a red ribbon being tied around Nicholas II, representing the success of the Red Army. This clever and simplistic approach complemented the intensity of the political landscape it aimed to portray.
Burjesta’s modern depiction of events was well thought out and brilliantly executed. It is a stark reminder of how pertinent the battle “of capital against labour” is in contemporary society.