Stars In The Morning Sky, RADA 5 June


To start with the important stuff:  90 minutes without an interval, and you need to sit on the barstools at the back to see the whole of the production, which involves some long-drawn-out entrances and exits behind the backs of most of the audience.

As everyone knows, this play is about Moscow prostitutes being rounded up and dumped out of the way before the 1980 Olympics.  But I think part of the point the text wants to make is that it’s all rather a hole-and-corner affair; it’s a hut they’re sent to stay in while the police and pimps still want to extract from them what advantage they can.  In fact, we saw something more like an abandoned barracks or hospital ward as the setting.

After an large amount of musical Soviet kitsch, the play began with an exchange in really rather good Russian between Laura (Molly Gromadzki) and Valentina (Alexandra Guelff).  In fact Ms Gromadzki’s Russian made her sound rather more like the self-deluding Blanche DuBois character Laura is meant to be than her estuarine English did.  And why was Valentina speaking with a North Country accent, especially when her son wasn’t?

I don’t think any of the young actresses really got on terms with their parts, and in a way it would be worrying if they had, but I’m not sure that the play gave them a great deal of help either.  As far as I can see, it’s performed quite regularly in Russia these days but with extensive changes each time, showing a certain lack of confidence.  At least Pia Laborde Noguez  as Anna managed to suggest she was older than the others…

I’m all for bashing the Olympics, but I also think this piece may have outlived its relevance.

See here for other Russian plays in London that I know about.

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