By Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Lisa Spirling
In 1920, the Russian writer Isaac Babel reports on a Red Cavalry campaign in Poland. In 1936, Stalin’s NKVD chief Nicolai Yezhov unleashes the Great Purge. In 1989, a mysterious KGB agent spying on a woman in Dresden falls in love. In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government crashes near the Russian city of Smolensk…
This darkly comic rhapsody on Russian themes explores the blurred lines between lies, fiction and conspiracy theories, as it tracks back and forth across 90 years of Soviet and post-Soviet history in search of the genesis of the post-truth world.
Rajiv Joseph is the multi-award winning author of a dozen plays including Guards at the Taj and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Lisa Spirling returns to direct her seventh production at Hampstead; her work elsewhere includes In Event of Moone Disaster (as Artistic Director of Theatre503), Jumpy (Theatr Clwyd) and Here (Rose Theatre Kingston).
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ETON AVENUE, SWISS COTTAGE,
LONDON, NW3 3EU
May 3, 2018
A complex narrative of fiction, history and truth based around the life and works of Isaac Babel. Covering a period from 1920 to the Putin years the play interweaves the stories of half a dozen real and imaginary characters with their varying memories and interpretations of events. At three and a quarter hours length it demands close attention but it is relieved by grim humour and the excellence of the ensemble acting. Quite how Putin rose to his current pre-eminence is chillingly realised.