So this evening I went to see The Master & Margarita at The Edinburgh Fringe. The Master & Margarita is a Russian novel designed as a satire to reflect the Russian bourgeois. It’s an interesting story which looks at two worlds. One set in Russia at the turn of the great war, and the other set two thousand years ago. It is an extremely complex story, and one very hard to translate to stage.
So it is no mystery that I may have gotten a bit lost in the story and found it a little hard to follow, however even when I wasn’t sure what was going on, I still enjoyed it. Due to the beautiful writing of the piece, and the heartfelt acting from the actors. The main aspect of this piece that I think was very artistic, was the use of space. The venue was a church, and the staging was promenade. I love promenade staging, and I know how hard it is to do. So I commend the company for that. I think it was done really well and I loved the use of levels in the venue. This was also complimented by the lighting. As it was a late night performance, the church was shrouded in darkness, the lighting was provided by the torches that each actor used. This meant that the acting areas were lit up according to what was performed, and it made the actors shadows dance on the walls behind them, adding another visual layer to this piece.
The puppetry and physical theatre aspects of the piece were really effective. There was one particular scene where Margarite was flying through the sky, transforming into as a witch. They used the company to lift the actor over the pews, creating a really beautiful scene, and the puppetress made the cat very realistic and life-like, even though it was just a floating head. A special mention must also be said for the actor who played Satan, creating a sort of sassy and suave satan, who I enjoyed very much, along with the actor who played The Master. The narration added another layer, which helped drive the narrative. The interaction with the audience made a very immersive production, along with caricature characters, combined with some beautiful singing, gave it a rather Brechtian feel.
The overall effect was a piece that was full of life, and passion. Somebody once said to me that passion of theatre always shines through and makes any performance transcendent. It cannot be rewarded by a single part, but by a lifetime of a dramatist. It may not be the best show in the fringe, but it sure is a good one, and not only because the company’s passion exudes throughout the performance.