Astrakhan Winter - review

Astrakhan Winter

Astrakhan Winter - Venue 34, Adam House, Chambers Street, Edinburgh
7-29 August 2005, 3.00pm

Astrakhan Winter By Dic Edwards Cambridge University ADCC
*****
Last year the ADC chose a very obscure, difficult but fascinating piece, Torben Betts' Five Visions of the Faithful, as their Fringe offering. This year they have brought an equally demanding play, albeit in a different way, Welsh playwright Dic Edwards' Astrakhan Winter.

It's a play in 21 scenes which demands your attention and raises many questions which it resolutely refuses to answer. "Why does X do this?" we find ourselves asking at a number of points in the play and theer is no answer, excrpt that he does.

This would seem like a recipe for disaster but the dialogue (or, often, monologue) is so compelling that this lack of motivation doesn't matter: we are driven forward, fascinated.It is set in the UK and an unnamed Balkan country during the 90s and focuses on a British history lecturer,

Walker, who becomes a leader of the revolution, and whose personal, domestic life becomes entangled in the revolutionary events and their aftermath. What we see is a series of snapshots from numerous points of view which show us something of the man Walker and how his intervention causes confusion, slowly revealing the fact that his view of what he achieved - and, indeed, the views of the dead revolutionaries who speak to us from beyond the grave - is far from the reality, and its consequences are tragic, not so much for Walker but for all those who are touched by these events, whether at the time in the Balkans or later in Britain.

The play is very tightly directed by James Dacre, who was responsible for Five Visions last year, and the production values are very high. The set is deceptively simple but the very effective lighting plot is just the opposite, with over 200 lighting cues in the one hour of the production. The complexity of the lighting adds depth to the make-up of the dead revolutionaries which gives them an other-worldly look. The blocking is tight and precise and the original music, played live, supplements a complex soundscape.

It's a student production but it is only the youth of the performers that give that fact away: in all else it is thoroughly professional, and at a very high standard.

back to the opening Dic Edwards page