The Litvinenko Project at Lakeside
Do you remember when you were about 15, there was a photo of a man released to the media who looked incredibly ill, he had no hair and was painfully thin? Do you remember that he was apparently poisoned by former members of the KGB?
The story starts nearly 8 years ago and the case of Alexander Litvinenko is still open.
The Litvinenko Project is 2Magpies latest site-specific piece of theatre that explores the day that Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned. Retracing his final movements around London in the confines of the Pavilion Cafe at Lakeside, we meet suspicious characters who are all suspects in this case.
Part of the neat14 festival (Nottingham European Arts and Theatre festival) that is running until Sunday, 2Magpies are touring the production around various locations across the city to conduct their enquiry in an innovative documentary style to piece together what happened.
The 2Magpies themselves, Tom Barnes and Matt Wilks play the parts of Litvinenko and his Russian associates, swapping and changing roles between themselves along with a very dashing mop. This production was the definition of minimalist.
Both Barnes and Wilks are fantastic story tellers. The Litvinenko story is anything but simple, but together they commanded both the space of the cafe and the complicated politics and foreign mystery characters to provoke intrigue.
The audience, who were perhaps persuaded by the advertisement that a cup of tea was included with the ticket price, did not get a leisurely early evening cuppa – if anything by the end we were too nervous to drink from the eclectic tea pots, for fear of eggs yolks or polonium.
With nowhere to hide, in some parts, the audience were called upon to represent the Russian associates. The intimacy achieved a level of tension you would not get in a normal theatre experience. Well, you wouldn’t get a gin and tonic splashed all over you either, but that’s what happened when I was ‘playing’ the suspicious Russian Kovtov.
By the end all the audience were quite literally caught up in the complicated web that Litvinenko was tangled in, as if we were all suspects too.
Without a doubt, The Litvinenko Project provokes a conversation and it keeps the case in the public consciousness. The couple who I shared a table with (going to theatre alone is character building) assured me they were going home to google the case.
One of the lines in the play is “It is like something out of a film”, right now it certainly makes fantastic theatre.
The Litvinenko Project will be performed at Cast Bar on Tuesday at 5.30pm, Lee Rosy’s on Wednesday at 7pm and Edin’s Patisseries on Thursday at 5.30pm. More details here.
For more information about the neat14 festival visit their website.