REVIEW: Stalin’s Russia: A Teenage Romcom
A comedy that parodies itself, featuring everything from Stalin to Green Day, and is guaranteed to make you laugh.
If you are brave enough to look back on those not-so-distant years of being a desperate A-Level student, willing to do literally anything for those revered UCAS points, then you’ll love the ironic humour of this production.
Stalin’s Russia is a play about a student who finds herself manipulating a boy into writing her Extended Project… which naturally occurs through a stand-off between a fake-gun wielding, choker-wearing emo and a nerd with a staple gun. Fast forward two months spent aimlessly in McDonalds (we can all relate) and the protagonist (Rachel-Marie Weiss) is promising to sleep with a guy she doesn’t really like just to get a 7000 word essay done. And Stalin is there. It’s completely random and completely, brilliantly hilarious.
All of the characters were complete caricatures, but it worked! The whole play was a parody of itself, with blatant asides to the audience and references to the lighting and set, so the sheer and unapologetic caricaturing was appropriate and resulted in a wry comedy that had the whole audience laughing.
Comrie Saville-Ferguson was superb as James, the flirty, wannabe Green Day sixth-former that we all had a crush on, complete with turquoise hair, eyeliner, and a cocky wink to the audience. His characterisation throughout was excellent, reducing the audience to hysterics just through his physicality – from his ridiculous facial expressions as he taught the protagonist how to flirt, to throwing a leg over a chair before sitting down, his parody ironic and extremely funny, and makes the show worth seeing just for outfit inspiration.
The awkwardness of classroom presentations was captured to great comic effect: Rachel-Marie Weiss’ nervous twitching as the powerpoint – complete with some excellent word art – excruciatingly spelled out her title letter by letter. An excellent start to a hilarious play, this got the audience on board from the very start.
The music that was playing during the scene transitions was what can only be described as Stalin’s theme tune, and was funny in itself, let alone when paired with the metatheatrical set-changes that took place with the lights up. Some of the funniest moments were created with very minimal dialogue, such as the protagonist’s comment to the audience, noting the ominous arrival of a bed in the middle of the stage.
Of course, a play called Stalin’s Russia would not be complete without the big man himself, and Alfred Leigh was brilliant as the voice of a teenage girl’s conscience. Even the costume malfunctions only added to the building hilarity as the communist leader sat on a girl’s bed and sagely commented that “you are trapped within the machinations of capitalism”. I loved it.
This is a hilarious nod to school life, complete with caricatures that we could all relate to and the whole show gave the audience a great time. Whatever your stance on Stalin, Extended Projects and emos, this comedy is deserving of its Harry Porter prize, and definitely worth the late-night trip into town.