The incident of terrorists taking over a theatre in Moscow in 2002 was always going to be dramatised at some point - what director and writer could resist having masked gunmen running up and down the aisles and actors strategically placed in the audience?
Certainly the construction of Natalia Pelevine’s play serves the purpose well, with the cast members cropping up all over the small auditorium in the first five or ten minutes of the show.
But the downside of the siege - apart from the deaths of 130 of the theatregoers and the 42 gunmen of course - was that for all but the last five minutes of the two and a half day ordeal, nothing much happened.
Pelevine’s play is peppered with long, aching silences as the gunmen walk up and down the aisles. The passing of time is hinted at by occasional mentions on the radio, which is just as well, as the actors show no fatigue despite supposedly having been in the theatre, in incredibly stressful conditions, for more than 50 hours.
Julian Woolford uses the space well, although he could hardly fail to, but doesn’t manage to eek credibility from his performers.
The Chechen rebels are lightweight, thespian and as middle class as the audience members and the characters making up the hostages are really just sketches attached to cliches.
But Clare Wilkie as hostage Mira brings some credibility to the play, giving a performance way beyond what the production deserves and dragging the audience into the situation as much as she can.