The Actors Centre
Reviewed – 3rd February
“the cast bring Gaitán’s play to life with imaginative staging and excellent acting”
Raskolnikov, an impoverished former student, has a theory that society is divided into ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ people, and that the latter have the right to use evil means to achieve humanitarian good. Considering himself one of these superior beings, he plans and commits a crime but is consequently haunted by harrowing guilt. Although ‘Crime and Punishment’ is the story of a murder and the eventual confession of the perpetrator, Dostoyevsky’s classic novel is primarily an investigation into the psychopathology of the murderer. However, if an evening of intense moral anguish is a daunting prospect, then Teatro Nómada’s enlightening new production is the perfect antidote. Originally published in 2013 under the title ‘Leakage(s) and Anticoagulants’, writer, David Gaitán, constructs a superb dramatisation of the protagonist’s feverish ordeal in the form of a chorus of four individuals who vocalise the conflicting thoughts in his head. Sometimes they are united but often they argue amongst themselves; they tease, support, egg him on and irritate him with their nagging. Through them we can picture his mind and its perpetual conflict. Gaitán leaves to one side the complex sub-plots, the religious angle and the impact of urban hardship and uses just six of the book’s characters to focus on Raskolnikova (in this case, a woman) and her journey to the recovery of a diseased spirit.
Fresh out of the ‘Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’, director, Fernando Sakanassi, and the cast bring Gaitán’s play to life with imaginative staging and excellent acting. Through the script, artfully humanising the various voices, the five actors effect an atmosphere of foreboding with defined personalities and striking facial expressions. They merge into the plot’s personas by a simple change of costume (Rodrigo Muñoz), always leaving a member of the chorus on stage as a reminder. Raskolnikova is played by Hana Kelly, capturing the powerful angst from the opening and slowly being worn down by her own remorse. Jack Tivey is her best friend, Razumihin, charmingly garrulous and positive, while Zoë Clayton-Kelly portrays chief investigator Olga with her smug smile and self-assured composure. Zamiotov, a mere clerk in the novel, is given upgraded importance in an appealing interpretation by Alessandro Piavani. The music of Pergolesi’s ‘Stabat Mater’ is the nearest reference to the religious nature of Sonia whose pure, Christian goodness in the book is replaced by altruistic generosity and reflected with beautiful naïvety by Mariam Khundadze.
On a bare stage, Sakanassi uses constructive and imaginative movement to shape the internal conversations of Raskolnikova’s dilemma, with wooden poles as the only props, threatening, fighting and trapping him. Sound (José Canseco) and lighting (María Fernanda Cuervo) give the production the perfect technical addition, enhancing without overpowering and some unexpected singing fits neatly into the narrative. Even though it takes a minute or two to get into the style at the beginning and that the end is somewhat incidental, it is hard to believe that this is a ‘work-in-progress’. Whatever work is done or progress made, let’s hope it doesn’t lose its compelling inventiveness.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
The Actors Centre until 5th February as part of the Latin American Season
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: