Skip to main content

Ivan and the Dogs

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
5 stars
Recession-divined poverty destroys lives. Yet the survivor of
post-Communist Russia's 1990s economic meltdown in Hattie Naylor's
devastating solo play - a co-production between ATC and Soho Theatre - suggests there can be the strangest of liberations too. Based on a true story, Naylor's hour-long monologue
tells the harrowing yet appositely heart-warming tale of one
psychologically and emotionally damaged little boy's Dickensian flight
from domestic abuse onto the cold Moscow streets with only two packets
of crisps and a photograph of his mother for comfort.

Before he can be one more statistic, Ivan is taken under the wing of a
white dog and her brood of fellow strays. This pack he runs with become
his new family, developing an unspoken trust as they run the gauntlet
of gangsters, police and more hardened street urchin addicts, who only
confirm to Ivan that all humans are bad.

As related by actor Rad Kaim from the interior of a small raised white
cube that on Naomi Wilkinson's set, lit up by video projections of
canines in motion, might be a cell or a kennel, this remarkable tale
becomes an intensely concentrated glimpse into the brutal joys of
Ivan's former world. Delivered without fuss or histrionics in a low-key
whisper and pulsed by a soundscape by Dan Jones that mixes amplified
Russian language noises off and sounds of abuse with poignant piano
sketches, the effect in Ellen McDougall's flawless slow burner of a
production is both harrowing and mesmeric. This all comes home to roost
once Ivan is put back on civilisation's leash. The dreams he relates of
running wild and free light up his face with memories of a rare time, a
time when he was truly happy.

The Herald, April 25th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …