Writer: Richard Crane after Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Director: Faynia Williams
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
Four central performances of considerable strength mark Richard Crane and Faynia Williams’ revived production of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov as the highlight of the Tron Theatre’s 35th anniversary season.
Notoriously difficult to translate, thought to be un-stageable and widely regarded as one of the greatest achievements in world literature, it is a daunting task indeed to take Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 900 page masterpiece and turn it into a play. To distil its grand themes onto a 100 minute running time, would seem like utter madness, but that is exactly what Crane and Williams have managed to do.
While impossible to reproduce the detail of the novel, or tackle all of its philosophical questions, in sticking to its most major ethical debates: faith, free will and, of fundamental importance to the work, familial relationships, this ground-breaking adaptation manages to leave its mark and provoke discourse.
The performances are quite literally grounded in the earth on the functional, compact, multi-layered circular set which is beautifully lit by Sergey Jakovsky’s lighting design.
The quartet of actors alternate roles within the play, while also delivering fundamental characterisations of the four brothers. Sean Biggerstaff (Ivan), Tom England (Alyosha), Thierry Mabonga (Dmitry) and Mark Brailsford (Smerdyakov) gel perfectly together and the differences between the four are clearly marked and beautifully realised. Biggerstaff (Ivan) particularly shines in his though-provoking speech as the Grand Inquisitor to Alyosha as Christ as does the mercurial Mabonga in his portrayal of Dmitri’s self-destruction.
This striking adaptation perfectly mixes the classic with the contemporary and lingers in the memory long after the lights go down.
Runs until 28 October 2017 | Image: Contributed