by Paula Citron
The Harbourfront Hatch Series showcases emerging talent and The Russian Plays are terrific theatre. The evening consists of two plays – The Russian Play, which was a big winner at SummerWorks, and the new play USSR. Playwright Hannah Moscovitch is a clever purveyor of droll Russian literary misery, while director Natasha Mytnowych excels at imaginative minimalist staging.
The Russian Play, set in Stalinist times, harkens back to Turgenev and Chekhov in terms of woman as victim, while USSR carries Russian misery into today. In both plays, the soap opera lives of the heroines are rendered palatable by Moscovitch’s self-deprecating humour of all things Russian.
Michelle Monteith is sensational as both the frail Aebovka and the hard nose storyteller in The Russian Play. Aaron Willis and Shawn Campbell do fine jobs as her cruel lovers.
Although Maev Beaty has to sharpen her Russian accent, she is wonderful as the distraught heroine in USSR.
The Russian Plays continue until Feb. 25.
From Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.