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Review of The Point of No Return at New Diorama Theatre

The Point of No ReturnThe Point Of No Return is a production from the BeFrank theatre company, which is dedicated to producing “ambitious, visually engaging and thought provoking work based on real life stories, current topics and social/political events.” BeFrank is supported by, among others, the European Cultural Foundation and Tandem, The Arts Council and the British Ukrainian Society

Their current production is based on the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2014. The work was developed by the company, working with academics and political experts as well as Ukrainian actors and musicians.

As soon as one enters the theatre one is confronted by a row of police in riot gear, grim, dark, and threatening in their silence. They break to reveal a prisoner under interrogation, and from there, we move into scenes of protest, escalating to a fully-fledged riot.

Against the general background of conflict, a range of people (drawn from real interviews) suddenly flashed their personal stories before us. These stories did not explore the characters in any profound way; they existed in terms of their part in the conflict and the brief flashes of their lives gave a sense of how ordinary people were caught up in a major event in their history: a young woman rebelling against her family’s fears for her safety, a brother and sister caught tragically in the struggle, a teacher, feeling sympathy for the protesters but unable to express it for fear of antagonising the authorities, a young protester taken prisoner, a father looking for his daughter amidst the smoke and violence. Each short scene acted as a focus point to guide us through the escalating chaos.

This is not a one sided propaganda play – both sides, or rather, all sides, were fully present: Each side of the conflict appeared, vanished and reappeared, with an opportunity to express their point of view. The police: “we protect the elected government and keep the country a democracy, that’s our job.” The politicians: “they (the protesters) are manipulated by foreigners.” The protesters: “Freedom! Glory to our people!” They want a better life for their children. This was a very broad canvas, and the pace was relentless. Every moment was tense with conflict, as edgy, rough, confusing and dangerous as the real event must have been. I for one was gripped by feeling part of these events, while I was being reminded of their historical importance.

The staging was most inventive, with scenes shifting from place to place by a simple change of objects or sound. The actors all gave fully committed performances which increased the sense of immediacy.

Altogether, a meticulously researched and written event, excellently performed. If there was no ‘personal’ story line, the story line was the drama and conflict of the struggle itself which ended chaotically, with order restored and the authorities back in control, but with a sense of future outbreak simmering underneath, reminding us that when people are willing to die for freedom, they will not stop until they get it.
3 Star Review

Review by Kate Beswick

The Point Of No Return
The country is in turmoil. The capital is on fire. Riot police try to keep order as protesters arm themselves with homemade weapons, and prepare to stand their ground and fight for a common cause: a new beginning. Meanwhile, a father desperately searches for his missing daughter as government officials deliberate the appropriate use of force. Someone waits for the perfect moment to strike the match on a Molotov cocktail; the moment when unrest becomes revolution… The Point Of No Return.

Critically acclaimed BeFrank Theatre Company returns to New Diorama Theatre with a new thought-provoking that tells the extraordinary story of how a society struck back against a repressive government and changed the course of history. Set in a fictional yet familiar place, this story explores large-scale political events, democratic values and the right to freedom-of-speech, through the eyes of ordinary people from all walks of life.

From extensive research and journeys into the heart of Ukraine, ‘The Point of No Return’ is based upon the personally recorded real-life stories of those involved in the last 4 days of the revolution in Kiev, February 2014.

Cast: Vikash Bhai, Luiana Bonfim, Matt Maltby, Charlotte Gascoyne, Haakon Smestad, Jodyanne Richardson and Drew McKenzie.
Creative Team: Writer/Director: Tommy Lexen, Composer: Ben Osborn, Dramaturg: Amanda Fromell, Movement Director: Svetlana Biba, Set/Costume Designer: Hiroko Matsuo, Lighting Designer: Joshua Pharo, Associate Producer: Philippa Kane, Executive Producer: Neil Walker, Outreach Manager: Kate Brown, Production Assistants: Mel Harrison and Daniel McElroy.

This production made in collaboration with/or supported by: Arts Council England, New Diorama Theatre (London), Centre for European Studies/Lund University (Lund, Sweden), European Culture Foundation, Federal Foreign Office (Berlin, Germany), MitOst (Berlin, Germany), Old Vic New Voices (London), Ukrainian Events in London (London), The Gålö Foundation (Stockholm, Sweden), IdeasTap (London), Folkteatren (Gothenburg, Sweden), Theatre na Zhukah (Kharkiv, Ukraine) and V. Zavalniuk’s “Peretvorennya” Theatre (Kiev, Ukraine).

The Point of No Return
New Diorama Theatre
Tue 28 April – Sat 23 May @ 19:30
Saturday matinees @ 15:30

£15.00 / £12.00 (conc)
No shows Sunday and Mondays
New Diorama Theatre box office 0207 383 9034
http://newdiorama.com/

Thursday 30th April 2015

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