Monday, 12 December 2011

Theatrical Interlude 21

Collaborators, National Theatre Live (encore), Cinema City, Norwich. December 2011

Tickets to see this in London appear to be like gold dust and to add insult to injury when I tried to book tickets to see this Live it had also sold out. Luckily my local Picture House cinema put on an 'encore' performance and so I did manage to get tickets.

It still feels quite odd to go to the cinema to see a play but once I managed to get my head around the concept I was sucked in.

This is a very odd play and not one I can sum up easily. Like many tales about Stalinist Russia it is not always a comfortable watch. Sticking to your principles and ideals under such circumstances must have been very hard and seeing how a passionate man became corrupted was shown very convincingly.

The actors were very good, although at the very start Simon Russell Beale did seem to be playing Ricky Gervais rather than Josef Stalin. Alex Jennings was very good as Bulgakov and the rest of the cast supported brilliantly.

Collaborators is currently being performed in the Cottesloe Theatre at the National, and this small, versatile space worked well for the staging. This was very much theatre in the round and a limited space for the stage really did mean the set was used in a truly innovative way - I do wonder how the transfer to the Olivier Theatre will work.

I think that at times the metaphors were over egged a little, and I felt very uncomfortable during much of the play as I was feeling sympathy for Stalin - happily the end did manage to recreate the more traditional view of the dictator.

On the whole this was a really enjoyable play, one that I am very glad that I have seen but not one that I will be sad that I only saw at the cinema and not actually at the theatre live.

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