War And Peace

11/02/2008

Adrian Bhagat went to see War And Peace at Nottingham Playhouse


War And Peace at Nottingham PlayhouseIt's an ambitious project to transfer Tolstoy's famous door-stop of a novel into a haemorrhoid-inducing theatre marathon but who better to take on this task than the incredible Shared Experience company? Weighing in at around five and a half hours of theatre, this could be an ordeal were it not for the superb, pacy adaptation and the excellent performances.

It's impossible to summarise the plot of such a lengthy piece here. The story concerns Russian society during the Napoleonic War through the lives of various aristocratic characters. The novel is a philosophical work on the most sweeping and fundamental themes of life: love, passion and duty; youth and experience; war and peace and how history is made. Much of the action concerns the development of Pierre Bezuhov, brilliantly played by Barnaby Kay. Pierre is a misfit who suddenly inherits a large fortune and earnestly desires to do the right thing. However, his various schemes fail and he is left with doubts about how and why one should do good. Inspired by the principles of the French Revolution, he endorses Napoleon's domination of Europe while most of Russian society wish to see him defeated. Pierre is disillusioned as he witnesses the how the lofty ideals descend into cruelty and ultimately he makes a clumsy attempt to assassinate the dictator.

There are many other strands to the story with countless love affairs, heroic fighting and personal tragedies. With a cast of just fifteen playing numerous characters it must present a real challenge for them and yet every one gave sterling performances throughout. The real star of this play, however, is Helen Edmundson's remarkable adaptation. She has cleverly condensed the novel whilst keeping both the complex characterisation and the delicate investigation of weighty themes. Despite all this, the story never seems rushed or incomplete and she evens manages to find time for moments of humour.

The play is divided into two performances with the choice of seeing them over two evenings or both in one day with a break for dinner. We chose the latter option and with such a compelling production, the day flew by. My charming companion did note that she was feeling 'intellectually tired' by the final act but I think this may not have been the result of deep consideration of the human condition but rather the consequence of drinking gin in every interval.

This play deserves to be widely seen and, happily, it is to tour Britain and reside in London for 6 weeks. I hope that it will once again win the Nottingham Playhouse recognition for producing excellent theatre in the regions.



War and Peace runs at Nottingham Playhouse until Sunday 17th February 2008 before a national tour.

 

Share this article



Ads by Google


Comments


comments powered by Disqus

Share Tools

Go to comments Read comments and make your own

LeftLion Magazine

Read our entire archive online

LeftLion Magazine
more info

Playhouse

Playhouse
more info

Related video alt

LeftLion on Facebook

 

Most read this monthalt

  • LeftLion Magazine #65
    With Ferocious Dog, Mhairi McFarlane, Ned Ludd, Nottingham Castle, Pleasfest, Chris Adcock, Percydread, Holly Lucas, 2Magpies Theatre, David Lilley and more
  • Nottingham Through Fresher Eyes
    Nottingham Trent University's photography students snapped up the city when they were mere fresh faces cutting their teeth
  • Cat Café
    There's pussy (cats) galore in the newest joint in town
  • A Canadian at London 2012
    "I want to lose myself in the joyous atmosphere of the world’s middle class getting together to cheer on its fastest and best at throwing heavy objects"
  • Bye Bye, Shaun Derry
    Lasting 503 days at Meadow Lane, surely qualifies a Notts County management team for some kind of commemorative teapot?
  • Exclusive: National Videogame Arcade
    First photos from Nottingham's new centre of videogame excellence with live action Micro Machines, a Minecraft room and a load of bananas
  • LeftLion Magazine #66
    With Cantaloupe, Tom Hackett, Record Store Day, Kitty Cafe, Industry Week, Eve Makis, The Old General Mayo and more
  • Babe Punch
    The five school friends making a glorious racket while still making sure they've got time to revise for their exams
  • Billy Craigan-Toon
    An NTU fine art graduate tells all about his performance pieces and working in Backlit studios with other creative types
  • Ferocious Dog
    "Our sound is unique and you'll recognise us a mile off, but we're not stuck in any genre"

Event Listings alt

There aren't any tickets available for sale. view all events

Ads by Google