During the Edinburgh Festival 'Anna' will be performed at:
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Reviews will be posted here, on the company facebook page and via twitter as they become available.
Anna Politkovskaya was murdered for what she believed in. Gunned down in a lift for refusing to be silenced, for refusing to sit back and let the human rights abuses of the Russian/Chechen war continue unreported. The formidable Badac Theatre Company have created a brutal call to arms in her memory; an uncomfortable, uncompromising confrontation with our own apathetic consumption of atrocity. We're taken down into the basement of Summerhall and arranged along the walls of a stark white corridor. It's like a holding pen. But anyone waiting to be moved on into a comfortable seat or an immersive playground is in for a rude awakening, as Politkovskaya's story is played out in the closest possible quarters. You can smell the sweat and spittle as Marnie Baxter's furious representation of the journalist rails against the lies and cruelties of her countrymen. We see Politkovskaya shake with grief and rage as she hears the story of a woman whose son was tortured to death, or speaks to a survivor of the Dubrovka massacre. We see her beaten and abused by soldiers and Putin's lackeys. We see the pain she faces daily and the suffering she endures for bringing it to light, and we have nowhere to avert our eyes. Badac confront our apathy by temporarily revoking our right to it. This shiv of a play is at its most powerful when it sticks close to the stories Politkovskaya fought for, but its brutal, unrelenting punches make the price of truth harrowingly clear.
THE LIST ****
A lift opens and we step inside. Emerging moments later, a stark, sterile basement corridor lies ominously before us. Bright strip lights buzz overhead, as a woman ushers us to stand against the walls. And so it begins: Badac Theatre Company?s harrowing, brutal and at times deeply affecting production of Anna, the story of the life, work and eventual assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Having previously explored domestic violence, artist persecution and the holocaust in their extraordinary body of work, Badac are no cosy documentarians. And this, their latest project highlighting the human right abuses committed during the second Russia / Chechnya war, is no less demanding. Marnie Baxter is utterly compelling as the increasingly desperate and determined Anna, while the rest of the cast, particularly Saskia Schuck as The Witness, are relentless in their endeavour to show the full horrors of a terrifying autocracy. Although the events of the piece are very much Anna?s experiences ? and those brave enough to tell her their stories ? Badac speaks directly to journalists around the world, and the truth-tellers and whistle-blowers silenced and ignored. This is gruelling, powerful theatre that demands we, the public, listen. Apathy is not an option here.
THE SKINNY ****
Badac Theatre?s unflinching site-specific production of the life and death of murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya sets up shop at Summerhall
REVIEW BY KAYLEIGH DONALDSON. PUBLISHED 10 AUGUST 2013
Before I begin my review, I must note two things: one, a trigger warning that this show contains close-up scenes of attacks and rape, and two, my star rating is somewhat redundant. This isn?t really the kind of show you allot a rating of enjoyment to. Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist known in her Russian homeland for her uncompromising dedication to the truth, even when it put her at risk. She was shot in the elevator of her apartment building, a case that remains unsolved to this day. Fittingly, Badac?s production takes place in a blank, airless white corridor accessible only by elevator to the Summerhall basement. The audience stand against the walls for the hour while the actors scream and shake before their very eyes. A murdered soldier next to you screams for his mama until he?s red in the face and droplets of sweat fall to his feet. Politkovskaya is brutally attacked by sadistic soldiers at your feet. She repeatedly pleads for the audience to listen to her story and do something. Finally, after the journalist is shot and the performance is over, you make your way to the elevator and stand next to her still body, slumped onto the floor. This is not an easy thing to watch. Badac have deliberately made the experience as difficult as possible to shake the audience out of their apathy, to force them to listen and understand the torment Politkovskaya and the people she interviewed went through. You can?t hide from this. There is literally nowhere to go. It?s hugely powerful, the act of theatrical voyeurism turned on its head, and it is impossible to fault its execution. Anna is uncompromising and never deviates from its intentions. It?s also the most difficult theatrical experience I?ve ever been through, and I have no desire to ever repeat it. If you feel that you are strong enough to withstand this extremely tough play, I highly recommend it, but it?s not for everyone.