Review: Crime & Punishment

Written for The Stage

Victor Sobchak’s tidy production of Crime & Punishment is a mixed bag of powerful expressionism and stilted interactions. Dostoyevsky’s literary epic is rich material from which to pick, and Sobchak, after skinning it down to its skeleton, has managed to retain some of the original’s blood and guts. However, too often the slender shoulders of this cast buckle under the pressure of such meaty ideas.

Sobchak’s bold visual flare speaks volumes of the psychological disquiet of Dostoyevsky’s (anti) hero Raskolnikov, expressing his madness in ghostly sequences and emerald and sapphire lighting states. Further enhancing this unsettling atmosphere is the discordant music of Russian composer Alfred Schnittke which underscores the action.

But while Sobchak succeeds in creating stage tableaux that even Robert Wilson would enjoy, he falls down in the more natural elements of this piece. With the exception of Shaban Arifi, Lucia Edward and Natalie Hillier, the presentational cast never feel comfortable in their newly acquired Russian skins. Arifi is compelling at points but flips between madness and sanity contrarily. Edward and Hillier breathe warmth into Sonya and Nastya but, still, the surface of Dostoyevsky’s ruby red characters feels only just scratched.

Runs until 16th March.

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