Royal Court's Bad Roads Is A Brutal Glimpse Into War

Bad Roads, Royal Court Theatre ★★★★☆

Royal Court's Bad Roads Is A Brutal Glimpse Into War Bad Roads, Royal Court Theatre 4
Photo: Helen Murray

For an eye-opening but uncomfortable insight into wartime terror, check out the English translation of Natal'ya Vorozhbit's Bad Roads playing at Sloane Square's Royal Court Theatre. Set in the Ukraine's Donbass region, where war has been fuming since 2014, the 90-minute production shows the reality of the ravaging impact of war, leaving you intermittently laughing at the comedic scenes, then crying at the brutal ones. The set perfectly matches the tone — the back's a dark and misty abyss, only the front of the stage is visible: it's horrifically bleak, with potholed ground and sparse trees.

A central issue of the play is the many ways in which war impacts women, ranging from the experiences of a female journalist to the abuse of the village girls who sleep with the enemy soldiers. A brutal rape scene in pitch black with piercing screams leaves all images and action to the imagination, but the uncomfortable air when the lights return assures me that the audience are all as shocked as I am. At times, the fact that it is translated is evident in clunky phrases and slightly odd-sounding sentences, but overall the play is a well-constructed if harsh reality check on the experiences of today's war-torn individuals.

Bad Roads, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS. Tickets from £12. Until 23 December.

Last Updated 30 November 2017