Fear And Loathing In Ukraine: A Patchy Play About Last Year's Riots
Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆
When Ukraine's Maidan revolution broke out, culminating in four days of deadly rioting in February 2014, the newspapers were full of the story. But how much do we remember when the story is over and done with?
Creating a lasting account of this frightening time, should have been challenge enough for BeFrank, the creators of new play The Point of No Return, who actually went to Ukraine to gather first-hand witness testimonies. And when the show works to this end, the experience is mesmeric. Snatches of actual monologues lift the mask of everyone involved, from the police brutally pushing back the rioters, to the young people risking life and limb to stand alongside those throwing Molotov cocktails. In the intimate space of the New Diorama Theatre, barriers between reality and fiction are pulled down, with glares and shouts ricocheting in the space like bullets.
Credible acting struggles to keep pace with the numerous character changes required over the several stories being tracked. The convoluted plotting cant quite sustain the interest and undoes the work of actors Haakon Smestad, switching from rioter to commander to medic, and fiery Luiana Bonfim who is charismatic as Stella and then a state minister.
More powerful are moments such as the irony of an anonymous politician spouting standard lines after we've seen the atrocities unfold, or the piano that's played in imitation of one found in Maidan Square. While an eerie meat-washing scene by Kiev’s river was also captivating.
The music was a constant highpoint with Detroit techno underscoring the doom of the days leading up to the mass killings by the snipers, cleverly contrasting what sounds like traditional Ukranian singing and some chilling sound-effects.
We would have loved it if The Point of No Return had been more compact and less sprawling. Still, the rough, unpolished result of the creators' reconnaissance mission to Ukraine is part of its appeal and a reason to go.
Last Updated 05 May 2015