The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted
by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others
by streaming new shows. And we take the opportunity to explore
other vintage productions preserved online. Until things return to
normal we review the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.
Finborough Theatre Online June 2022
one of London's smallest but most adventurous theatres, has commissioned
a strand of Voices From Ukraine, opening with this eighty-minute
monologue play by Neda Nezhdana, offered online for free.
in writing and production, it is a yelp of pain and rage, with all the
power and some of the limitations of a work conceived in passion.
solo speaker is a middle-class Ukrainian woman, and her monologue is
made up almost entirely of her half of a correspondence with a Russian
first the two try to chat naturally as if there were not bombs falling
and men fighting street-by-street outside her pleasantly-furnished flat.
quickly the other woman's inability or refusal to acknowledge what's
going on angers the speaker, whose outrage expands to envelop those
European countries who value their economic dependence on Russia above
justice and humanity.
she finds a specific and personal way to make her friend feel some of
the pain and anger she does, achieving some sense of justice and balance
title is a Ukrainian word meaning 'response,' creating a dark pun as it
can be applied to both 'reply' and 'military retaliation.')
call the piece minimalist is to exaggerate its theatricality. Until the
end there is very little narrative or plot to the speaker's mounting
screed of outrage. Actress Kate Vestrikova stands essentially
motionless, speaking directly to the camera, while openly reading from a
script she holds in her hands.
the camera barely moves as well, her speech is broken up into a string
of separate shots, rarely more than a minute long, punctuated by
blackouts or brief cutaways.
for the performer's voice and face, the power of the piece lies entirely
in Nezhdana's words.
question, the passion of her outrage – directed less at the military
invasion than at the world's complacent refusal to acknowledge it as
fully as she wants – is communicated.
uninterrupted and unmodulated passion can quickly overwhelm an audience,
leaving us numbed rather than aroused, and an artist's raw emotions can
interfere with her artistry.
Otvetka reaches the peak of its effectiveness by midpoint at the latest, and just more and more of the same dissipates its power.
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