New London theatre Marylebone Theatre opens its doors with Schiller curiosity Dmitry
“I have been flung into the wind without any memory”
Does London really need new theatres? As Soho Place prepares to open over the corpse of the Astoria, the Marylebone Theatre opens its doors at Rudolf Steiner House. Time will tell if London’s theatre ecology can sustain the increased supply but you have to tip your hat to the latter making their inaugural production a near-three-hour unfinished Schiller play.
Schiller’s incomplete Demetrius is reborn here as Peter Oswald’s Dmitry and boy, it’s a doozy. Deep in 17th century Russian history, Boris Godunov has seized the Russian throne from Ivan the Terrible but his rule over the Kremlin is challenged when Dmitry – Ivan’s son whom Boris ordered killed – emerges to assert his claim, backed by numerous enemies of Russia.
Is he who he says he is? Can the motivations of the papal envoy, the Polish princes and the Tsarina who back him be questioned? Can the director resist overplayed contemporary resonances at the end? I’ll leave the first two for you to find out but Tim Supple’s production is rarely subtle, determined to marry modern aesthetic with what is a deeply traditional drama.
The cumulative effect is disconcerting and ultimately distracting, from a narrative which has much to say about the ugly side of nationalism and how far people will go in order to be proven right. A talented cast give it their all – James Garnon, Poppy Miller and Mark Hadfield all stand out, though Tom Byrne’s Dmitry doesn’t quite do enough to keep us engaged in this challenging work.