Opus No 7 review – more like alchemy than theatre

[from The Guardian]

Medals pinned on chests suddenly resemble blood-splattered gunshot wounds in Dmitry Krymov’s vivid and visceral play.

Opus No 7There are times when Dmitry Krymov‘s production, which draws parallels between the fate of European Jewry with that of artists living under the oppressive Soviet regime, seems less like theatre and more like alchemy. Buckets of paint thrown against a white cardboard wall mysteriously come alive. Holes are cut in the cardboard and the shapeless blobs are transformed into human shapes: the lost Jews of Europe. The wall bursts open and the entire theatre is filled with a blizzard of newsprint, every tiny torn scrap fluttering in the wind an unbearably poignant reminder of all those lost in the Holocaust.

There is so much loss in this visually stunning two and a half hours. A procession of ghosts are raised – victims of fascism and communism. History always walks with a jackboot here: the sinister steps of an SS officer in the first half, Genealogy, are echoed in the second half, Shostakovich. The cardboard wall of Part One is glimpsed under a piano in Part Two as the composer tries desperately to escape his political collusion as the state turns on its artists. Medals pinned on chests suddenly resemble blood-splattered gunshot wounds; Shostakovich’s own medal pierces his back, turning him into a wind-up clockwork toy, dancing to the tune of Mother Russia, represented by a monstrous outsized puppet with hard eyes and trigger-ready fingers.

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