Brothers Karamazov review at Tron Theatre, Glasgow – ‘lacks intensity’
Richard Crane’s dramatisation of Brothers Karamazov is an ambitious attempt to condense the epic scale of the Russian novel into two hours. Sadly, much of the complexity of Dostoyevsky’s novel is reduced to blunt declamation of his religious and philosophical musings.
The dynamic moral anxiety that drives the novel is given plenty of time, but this is in the form of long speeches and direct storytelling. The personalities of the brothers become symbols of their vices – the intellectual, the sensualist, the spiritual and the excluded. As a result a lot of the dramatic tension that lends the novel its intensity is lost.
The ensemble cast hop between roles in a way that further muddies characterisation – and the role of the father, victim of a murder which appears to be parricide, is shared between them. Mark Brailsford’s smarmy Smeerdyakov, however, catches an officious obsequiousness that hides a moral emptiness.
The chaos of the final court scene does express Dostoyevsky’s shifting of perspectives, and manages to resolve a confusing script into a tight finale. The incoherence of certain scenes in Faynia Williams’ production is less the result of the brother’s abandon or puritanism, rather a struggle to convey the breadth of the source text.
Williams’ production is old fashioned both in its desire to follow the novel’s narrative arc and in its use of a small cast to concentrate the drama. The singing and dance interludes often distract from the seriousness of the action.
Carys Hobbs’ handsome set and the energy of the cast notwithstanding, this is a disappointing summary of a rich and provocative novel.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.