'A Russian Play' review or 'Who's for a finger skin sandwich?'
'A Russian Play', John Thompson
Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Wednesday 15th February 2012
Written for Time Out
In bitterly cold 1916 Petrograd, two lads are waiting for something to happen. Writer Fyodor can't get past the first line of his novel and ex-soldier Alexei, longs for a revolution. Destitute and depressed, the two squabble over meager meals and warm their hands in pots of piss.
There's a whiff of 'Waiting for Godot' to John Thompson's, 'Russian Play', as Fyodor and Alexei fill their empty days with black-edged banter, waiting for aspirations that never come. Yet this isn't heavy going. Thompson is a confidently quirky, comic writer. And the spats between Alexei (Dan Percival) and Fyodor (Tom Kanji) are memorably bizarre.
The duo argue endlessly about two tiny potatoes, throw faeces at their neighbours and hack up their furniture, in an absurd attempt to make their apartment look larger.
The enjoyably obscure first half is lit up by an assured performance from Percival's straight- talking Alexei. His boiling frustration at Fyodor's writing (which he deems lukewarm porn, all subtext and no sex) is perfectly pitched. However, when a new lodger arrives and the plot darkens rapidly, David Salter's high-energy production dips.