Reviewer: David Doyle
Everybody knows Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned, but nobody is quite sure just how it happened. Was it the Russians in the hotel, the Italian in the sushi bar, or someone else entirely? It’s this case that gripped a nation nine years ago that 2Magpies Theatre examine in The Litvinenko Project.
It’s an unusual and intriguing show as the audience gather in the café of Summerhall and enjoy green tea while Tom Barnes and Matt Wilks recreate the day on which Litvinenko was poisoned, from the breakfast he shared with his wife and child, to the sushi restaurant he visited with the mysterious Italian, Mario Scaramella, and even the dance lesson he had with his wife, and of course his meeting with Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspects in the case.
Wilks and Barnes use a few simple props to guide the audience through Litvinenko’s day and supply factsabout the case. It’s a simple and well-executed piece that aims to inform as much as anything else. In fact, the pair start the show by working out just how much the audience remember the case by having a short conversation with each table of audience members in the café. This is the most laborious part of a show that is otherwise equal parts engaging and informative.
The greatest strength of the piece is the inventive theatricality. Wilks and Barnes create some wonderful and striking moments that really serve to elevate this into a piece of theatre rather than a mere reading of the facts of the case. It’s an unusual work but one that feels incredibly timely given the current interest in the case prompted by the public inquiry initiated by Theresa May. 2Magpies have succeeded in crafting an inventive piece that asks as many questions as it answers.
Runs until August 30,not including August 27, 2015