Roslyn Packer theatre, Sydney festival
Shakespeare in Russian might sound off-putting – but in this violent, visceral contemporary production, the spaces between words hold the most meaning
Three large, blood red cubes spin to reveal their contents to the audience: a couple fornicating in one, a nun praying in another, and a hooded man condemned to die in the third. The stage has become a strange, uneasy, intense space of the psyche.
There has been a crackdown on the licentious folk of Vienna, whose duke, Vincentio (Alexander Arsentyev), hands “absolute power” to his deputy, Angelo (Andrei Kuzichev) – a “man of stricture and firm abstinence” – before slipping into a friar’s disguise to watch this stage-managed authoritarian rule from nearby. Angelo soon attempts to rape Isabella (Anna Khalilulina), when she comes pleading for him to spare the life of his brother Claudio, who is destined to be executed for getting his lover pregnant.