Crime And Punishment, Theatre Review. The Casa, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Nathan Benjamin, Bow Towers, Yahya Baggash, P.J. Murray, Michael Cavanagh, Helen Lanceley, Peter Durr, Pam Campbell, Laura Connolly.

There is a stark and simple truth, an element of wholesomeness and direct appeal that Burjesta Theatre bring to the stage; the stripped back but achingly beautiful way of producing their adaptive productions, be it dealing with great weighty historical novels such as War and Peace or the huge wonderful explorations of Greek tragedy theatre, all is given the reverence of the magisterial, the subtle timings of players performing for the enjoyment of the words and the greatness of the play.

This is especially true in one of the hardest and seemingly delicate works offered to the eyes outside of its Russian confines, the powerful and literary complex Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s unrelenting masterpiece; to take on such a piece of literature dwarfs the mind, it polarises it and with the right team, the most dedicated of cast, can be, no matter where it it is staged, hard hitting and deeply personal to those who find themselves entranced in its fury.

Fury it is, it is not just a piece about the object of murder, it is one that takes so much energy to get the true feeling of objectivity in portraying the senselessness of the actual act and the way it can tear apart a person’s mind as they deal with the repercussions.

Adapted by Julian Bond and with great care taken over the way the play is presented, Crime and Punishment stands out as being a real tour de force in the Burjesta Theatre catalogue, one that truly asks a hell of a lot of the actors who to a person give their upmost to the cause.

With the play quite rightly having to lose some of its more subtle characters and the subplots that make it such an expansive book, Burjesta Theatre rolled with text and made it complete, dynamic and in the tremendous Michael Cavanagh as Porfiry Petrovitch and Helen Lanceley giving a sincerely captivating portrayal of the madness that dwells within the mind of someone suffering from the ravages of Tuberculosis, the entire cast was raised and given rightful applause for what they had achieved.

Crime and Punishment is a play of heart, not one to be taken on lightly or without due consideration to its poignancy in the modern day Europe we find ourselves in; it is a play that can destroy or elevate a company and in this case it very much takes Burjesta on to a new level of captivating local theatre.

Ian D. Hall