Maly Drama Theatre, The Possessed

Review in Issue 10-3 | Autumn 1998

This seven-hour stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novel is one of the most powerful and complete pieces of theatre I have ever seen. It does not merely mix all the stage elements into a superficial stew. It is a truly interactive exchange of aural, musical, physical and visual elements. Whilst not pandering to its audience, it succeeds in capturing them with a density, intensity and rich simplicity. No superficial naturalism here, but a stunning theatre of human existence and realism.

Some may be disappointed that its not as obviously physical as Maly’s previous production, Claustrophobia. However, this has a physicality imbued with stillness and silence. There are explosions of focused energy, of physical images interacting with the words and not merely illustrating them, of physical and visual counterpoint. An opening fifteen-minute monologue is delivered with a centred physical stillness (no static gesturing here) which is counterpointed by a still, silent figure listening. The space is held and transformed by the physical word, the stillness.

This is theatre built on principles of painting and composition. Juxtaposed images cut or dissolve one to another; locations are cut across or bridged as the play moves almost filmically from scene to scene. It is funny, moving and challenging. It is not afraid to use epic techniques to alienate its audience and so reveal more to them. It is bound together by a great story, told with words and writing of the highest order.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-3
p. 24