The Writers' Bloc

A play with huge jeopardy that suffered from little rehearsal time and a short running time.

The Writers' Bloc

A play with huge jeopardy that suffered from little rehearsal time and a short running time.

What was the value of literature and writing under a regime the Communist regime that rejected free thought? That's the question the play asked. It pits Stalinist Russia's five greatest writers together as they're employed to create a Communist propaganda masterpiece. It is a huge area to cover, with the exploration of betrayal, faith, sexual chemistry, and the value of an art form all thrown into there. A one hour five minute run limited the reach of the story and made things feel not only rushed but also thrown into the fray with subplots fighting each other.

The performances were very 50-50; actors that played Vera Fedorovna Panova, and Mikhail Bulgakov gave strong turns, especially the former who could have done a great deal more with her complex role as the rebel and the only female writer in the group. Conversely, Robert Wallis gave the main character, Yevgeny Zamyatin, a lacklustre turn with a voice, facial exaggeration and physicality that conflicted with his weedy, hermit character. With that came dialogue that didn't flow and delivery that jumped the gun – perhaps for the sake of brevity – doing richly written speech by Luke Ofield a disservice.

The Communist guards, one of whom is played by company co-director, Pip O'Neill, present a suitable amount of sweeping the ground from beneath our writers unawares. Infiltrating their confidence and picking them off one by one. They play an integral part of Yevgeny's dream, which are presented in beautiful physical theatre set pieces; swirling vortexes of his new nightmares for being thrust into this most terrifying writer's bootcamp.

A clearly deeply well researched bit of writing which could warrant from a bit more of a lot of things: more time, both to tell the story and to rehearse out the non-starters and interruptions; and a bigger stage that could benefit greatly from some marvellous, mobile set design. The script has the potential to be a modern classic with some enlightened talent in its actors.


Author

Bhavesh Jadva

Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team

Bhav loves films and TV too much. As Voice's Media Editor, his writing on Voice is generally geared towards film and TV but as Voice's Arts Award Editor you'll also hear from him as curator of the Gold Hub. Other than film and TV he takes a crack at writing about all art but holds a special place in his heart for soul music and comedy. Has just finished Parks and Recreation and feels a void left in his life.

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1 Comments

  • Luke Taylor

    On 15 May 2017, 10:25 Luke Taylor commented:

    This reads like this is a work in progress...it's a shame when plays become undermined by tight logistics and scheduling.

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