at Marylebone Theatre, London
“A heavyweight play, full of juicy speeches and guttural anger”
Steiner Hall has recently been beautifully refurbished and re-launched as Marylebone Theatre, situated near Marylebone railway station and Baker Street tube station.
The inaugural production - an in-house company with a cast of sixteen - pulls no punches in today’s political climate. Peter Oswald’s Dmitry is a heavyweight play, full of juicy speeches and guttural anger. It is based on the German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s unfinished work Demetrius from 1805.
Tom Byrne as Dmitry
Set in 1605, the ruthless tsar Boris Gudonov, former chief of Ivan the Terrible’s secret police, rules Russia through fear and oppression. Meanwhile, in Poland, a young man called Dmitry appears, claiming to be the missing son of Ivan the Terrible and therefore the rightful heir and tsar of Russia. Fuelled by their fear of Russian aggression, the Polish army take up Dmitry’s cause and march on the Kremlin to capture the throne.
If all this sounds like the plot of a Shakespearean history play - you wouldn’t be far wrong. The characters thrust themselves around the stage with gusto, shouting at and threatening each other, with an earnestness and energy that is quite exhausting! There is little shading in this long play - everything is either very contemplative or very forceful, either quiet or loud.
Clifford Samuel as Petushok
Within this intense framework, it can be difficult for the actors to appear as well-rounded characters, especially as there are quite a few accents bouncing around the stage. Tom Byrne’s Dmitry somehow doesn’t appear to be as regal as he claims to be (he slouches like a teenager too often for me!). Clifford Samuel’s focussed Petushok is a calming presence. Poppy Miller’s Tsarina, Maria (Dmitry’s mother), has a believable intensity that creates some of the few genuine tender moments amidst the barrage of noise and action.
Poppy Miller as Maria with Fyodor
Tim Supple’s direction is spot on, allowing the play’s ultimate climax to unfold at breakneck speed - although one wonders how long this production would last if the actors didn’t attack their lines with such pace!
Dmitry is a juicy play - a classic tragedy lacking in Shakespearean nuances, but palatable and prescient nonetheless. One can’t help but watch and wonder how much of this is actually happening now within the corridors of the Kremlin...
Photography Ellie Kurtz
Director Tim Supple
Writer Peter Oswald
Performances until Saturday 5th November at 7.30pm
Location Marylebone Theatre, 35 Park Road, London NW1 6XT
Tickets From £25, available from www.marylebonetheatre.com
Running time 2 hours 40 minutes inc interval