One Hour Eighteen Minutes, New Diorama Theatre 17 November


A picture I swiped from Twitter

This is a documentary play about the case of Sergei Magnitsky; the title refers to a mysterious period shortly before his prison death, either from pancreatitis or from a severe beating.

In fact the play lasted an hour.

The problem was that it didn’t work as a play:  there were very many short scenes aimed at establishing factual points, and the fact that Magnitsky never appeared on stage meant that dramatic conflict was never developed.  The traditional Russian approach of leaving troublemakers in gaol until they either rot or become harmless some other way might have shocked the uninformed, but would they have been interested in the play anyway?  Of course a production in Russia where performers and audience would be worrying what would be going to happen to them would be a different matter…

The set was very effective, and Alan Francis did a good turn as Magnitsky’s colleague and shamblingly charismatic surrogate.  All of the video projection technology worked.  Free books from the Glas backlist were on display outside for you to take away.

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