Wednesday, 4 April 2012


2/4/12, Barbican.

3.5 hours, including interval (the first act was an hour and 45 minutes, which is pushing it). A Simon McBurney Complicite classic with all the wit and technology and spectacular capacity to conjure much out of very little that we've come to expect, but perhaps more impressive than moving. By all accounts Bulgakov's sprawling novel is tough to adapt, but Mao, whom we travelled back with and is the only person I've ever met who's actually read it, said so far as she could remember this was a faithful version.

Eleven actors walk on to a line of chairs across the back of the wide, flat stage. The back wall is blank but will be used for videos and projections throughout, including Google maps-style birds-eye views of locations in the story -- in and around Moscow, in the Holy Land. The chairs are deployed throughout as props, along with a bed, a small glass cubicle big enough for a single person, a wall-with-door which serves to indicate a room; much of the rest of the staging is done with light: pools of light, bars of light which travel across the stage. There are video cameras which occasionally illuminate an action or focus on a performer (the result projected on the back wall); there are also cameras in the ceiling pointing vertically down which occasionally give us a picture of actors lying in square pools of light flat on their backs.

Everyone has head mics.

In the first scene, after some preliminaries which I forget, we see a line of chairs
cubicle (tram, phone box, soft drink)
pilate and yeshua (v thin)
crucifixion scene
woland, truly spooky
lit committee satire
hard to see the master's appeal
angus wright
moscow variety theatre
iphones, lights on us

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