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Collaborators at The Stirling Community Theatre - Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
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Winner Olivier Award for Best new Play in 2012
Collaborators at The Stirling Community Theatre: Review
Mikhail Bulgakov (Gary George) & Joseph Stalin (Peter Davies.)

The Australian premiere of John Hodge's play Collaborators is being performed at the Stirling Community Theatre by The Stirling Players. This black comedy is gripping, witty and disturbing with its depiction of a deadly game of cat and mouse between Joseph Stalin and playwright, Mikhail Bulgakov.

Collaborators is John Hodges' most successful and critically acclaimed piece of writing of Trainspotting was launched in British cinemas in 1996. Some years ago, Hodge was writing a movie script about Joseph Stalin, but he found the topic too big to bring it all together, so he adapted his screenplay for the theatre.

Set in 1938, Collaborators is based upon the true account of Mikhail Bulgakov, who while living with dissidents, experienced his writing being constantly censored and banned by Soviet cultural bodies. He was so desperate to get anything he had written performed on stage he accepted an offer from the secret police to write a play to celebrate Joseph Stalin's 60th birthday.

Collaborators at The Stirling Community Theatre: Review
Stalin and Bulgakov collaborating

Collaborators is the story of Bulgakov's surreal experience of writing a play, which ultimately is manipulated by Stalin's threatening influence. Bulgakov is seen struggling with his guilt over collaborating with Stalin, whom he knows is evil. He has surely struck a deal with the devil himself as we learn of the fear and horrific acts of cruelty experienced by the Russian people and other dissidents during Stalin's regime.

Collaborators at The Stirling Community Theatre: Review

Throughout the play the suffering and constant persecution inflicted upon dissidents is expressed with black comic drama and fantasy and conveys how Bulgakov is trapped by Stalin's devious trickery and tormenting, while the playwright struggles also with a kidney disease that ultimately killed him about two years later.

The play opens with Bulgakov having a nightmare. We see Stalin enter the playwright's bedroom from a cupboard and proceed to chase him around the room threatening to hit him over the head with a typewriter. This madcap scene resembles an old silent movie and is a very funny piece of black comedy. Judging by the laughter from the audience, they loved it.

Collaborators at The Stirling Community Theatre: Review

There are many chilling moments when you may find yourself laughing out loud when you know you shouldn't; especially when Stalin suggests it is important sometimes to look at things from a different point of view. "Leave the slave labour to me," he says, and takes over the writing of the play. At the same time he proposes that Bulgakov should approve the country's production targets and organise a list of names of people to be shot and simply approve the paperwork with the initials "JS."

This fascinating production will hold your attention with its brilliant performances from the entire cast. The direction from Megan Dansie is first class and the naturalistic style is perfect.The dialogue is captivating with memorable exchanges between man, Bulgakov played by Gary George and monster, Stalin, played by Peter Davies.

***** out of *****

When: Fri & Sat 3,4, 10, 11, 17, 18 Oct. at 8.00 pm
Sun 5 & 12 Oct. at 4.00 pm

Backstage tour after the 5 Oct matinee.

Phone: Stirling Players' Ticketing 0414 075 413

Photography: Courtesy of Mark Anolak.

Collaborators at The Stirling Community Theatre: Review
Mikhail Bulgakov (Gary George) & Joseph Stalin (Peter Davies )
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Why? Lots of chills and thrills to make you laugh, even when you know you shouldn't
When: 3 - 18 October 2014
Phone: Ticketing: 0414 075 413
Where: Stirling Community Theatre, 7 Avenue, Road, Stirling.
Cost: Adult $20, Conc. $16. Groups of 10 $14.00
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