Theatre of Gulags tells a story of art and resistance within USSR labour camps. Panning across five detached, yet narratively linked stages, this theatrical installation follows the story of four artists: theatre director Les Kurbas, director Natalya Sats, musician Vadim Kozin and writer and puppeteer Hava Volovich.
The particularly dark and damp Cavern is a perfect location for V+15 what with its references to the trains passing overhead, as well as the mysterious, dystopian theme that runs throughout the play. Jo Sutherland’s writing is philosophical, political and fast-paced with twists and turns at every corner, and the direction from Sara Reimers is naturalistic and engaging, but a bit lacking in its ability to bring out the characters’ emotions. Whether this is down to the actors, the direction, or the script, it is hard to tell. It could be a combination of all three.
It’s the 1980s. Big hair, shoulder pads and synth-pop provide a backdrop for Margaret Thatcher’s advocacy of the individual instead of a collective society. This results in a country that loves to go out dancing, but when crisis hits, people find themselves isolated and overwhelmed. Denise’s journey from cheerful disco queen to depressed carer unfolds through a fragmented monologue of nostalgia, song lyrics and sound-bites.
What would you be willing to give up to pay a mere £800 for a spacious, 2-bedroom flat with a view of St Paul’s from one room and Westminster from another? How about your privacy? Tom and Ed love the place at first sight, but Tom is rather put off by the cameras in every room that a grinning estate agent assures are for security purposes.
The sickly, yellow lights of a featureless meeting room are making Serge thirsty. He just wants some water, to tell his story and get back home to Streatham. An unnamed woman and man try and fail to listen to him, but they’re more concerned with whether his story is the kind that would enable their Western, colonial notion of helping.