(Mark Lawson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/12; via Pam Green.)

Finborough theatre, London
A ghostly tale and a potent monologue form a double bill that uses the 2014 conflict to remark movingly on current events

Because theatres schedule so far ahead, they tend to be better at marking historical anniversaries than current events. So the tiny but enterprising above-a-pub Finborough theatre deserves a bouquet of blue and yellow flowers for nimbly premiering, just over five months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two plays from the threatened nation.

When a country gains sudden international sympathy – as writers in South Africa, Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia have found at various times – the headline emergency is seen as the only subject for discussion. It’s too soon for such plays from Ukraine yet but the Finborough has cleverly chosen scripts foreshadowing and illuminating the 2022 invasion by focusing on the period in 2014 when Russia took over Crimea(Read more and the Donbas region, a rehearsal for Vladimir Putin of his bigger ambitions and the west’s apparent insouciance to such intrusions.

Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha, translated by Sasha Dugdale, was seen in a National Theatre of Scotland version seven years ago. In Kyiv, Katya and her daughter Oksana, both clad in black, are cooking dumplings and other delicacies for the local tradition of a ritual mourning picnic. This includes a full plate and glass set in front of a photo of Sasha, a Ukrainian army colonel who died of natural causes. But Sasha’s unquiet ghost, a regular presence, maintains a desire to fight for his homeland. The spirit soldier’s urge must have seemed touching in 2015, when his surviving colleagues had lost only a portion of the nation, but is almost unbearably emotive now.

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