A shabby apartment block proves a microcosmic hothouse of conflicting political views and ethnicities in Aleksey Scherbak’s short new play.
Appropriately staged so that the neighbouring flats of the protagonists simultaneously overlap yet are distinct, it gives an insider’s view of a Latvia riven by long held views and the opposing beliefs of three generations locked in by the events of the past.
University student Lyosha just wants to learn English and get out, but, much to the consternation of parents Sasha and Sveta, his younger sister (Ruby Bentall’s impassioned Anya) has become embroiled with anti-fascist activists protesting against the 16th March parade to commemorate the Latvian Legion’s fight against the Soviets alongside Hitler’s Waffen SS.
Their ex-soldier neighbour (also of Russian origin) still keeps the rifle he was awarded for his services, whilst just doors away a pair of Latvian veterans (one still clinging vehemently to old animosities, the other more easy going) reminisces comically, post march, over sausage and vodka.
Meanwhile Michael Nardone’s Sasha is vilified as a Nazi when his well-intentioned but misunderstood plea for tolerance is broadcast on television.
Well-acted and informative, this new play (translated by Rory Mullarkey for the Royal Court’s International Playwright’s season) highlights the problems faced by one nation, but it also has resonance for all countries where forgiving and forgetting isn’t viewed as an acceptable option.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube: Sloane Square tube
020 7565 5000
Until April 16
£20 (Mondays £10)
– Louise Kingsley