Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mastery en masse

Last night I went to see The Master and Margarita, staged by theatre group Complicite. I'd heard whispers about the group's genius and reliably sold out shows, but having read the novel - erratic and insane - I was sceptical about a successful adaptation.

I cannot remember I ever saw more compelling theatre. It felt like a circus full of mad enthusiasm, as surreal and gripping as Michael Bulgakow's 1930s novel.

Russian edition of The Master and Margarita by Michael Bulgakow

The Devil comes to Moscow and wreaks havoc. Heads come off, a cat swears in Cockney, and Jesus meets Pontius Pilate. A love story threads through the chaos.

A complex plot requires courage, and Complicite has it en masse. Stunning video and light projections, contemporary music (Rolling Stones, anyone?), and set changes which defy counting - this is 21st century theatre with balls.

How do you show Margarita flying naked through the skies of Moscow? How do you make three hours feel like a short dance with the Devil?

Margarita clutching Master - and his novel
Copyright Tristram Kenton

Start queueing for return tickets.

At the Barbican, until 7 April.

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