Moscow 1938. Not the best place to have a sense of humour, let alone a yearning for freedom.
So when prominent Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov, living among dissidents and hounded by the secret police, is given a surprise commission to pen a biographical drama about Joseph Stalin to celebrate his sixtieth birthday, he soon discovers there is a high price to pay.
In real life, Bulgakov’s work was regularly banned, but his play The White Guard was one of Stalin’s personal favourites. Inspired by this historical fact, John Hodges’ play plunges into the frenzied imagination of the writer as he loses himself in a bizarre ‘role-reversal’ relationship with the dictator of the Soviet Union.
As the surreal fantasy plays out as a relentless psychological game of cat-and-mouse, the compromises and humiliations inflicted on artists by those in power are thrown into sharp relief.
Moira Blumenthal directs.