REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society.

THE MASTER & MARGARITA

By: Nov. 26, 2023
REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society.

Thursday 23rd November 2023, 7:30pm, Belvoir St Theatre

Eamon Flack’s adaptation (script and direction) of Mikhail Bulgakov’s THE MASTER & MARGARITA is an intriguing retelling of the Russian writer’s last novel that remained hidden to decades after his death.   Filled with magic and mythology, the layered story of a writer, writing about a writer, writing about real and imagined figures that exist in different centuries, this work is complex, comic and completely insane at times while holding an underlying message the dangers of silencing the storytellers and artists when their words don’t match the narrative that the powerful want peddled. 

REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society. Given Mikhail Bulgakov’s intriguing history as a censored and criticized writer during Stalinist Russia, Flack frames the work as a staged reading of sorts with narrator Matilda Ridgway not only reading the book but also providing insight into the Bulgakov’s own story so that the parallels between his art and his life are highlighted.  As Ridgway reads from a well-worn text, Bulgakov’s characters come to life to convey the dual worlds of modern-day Moscow where Bulgakov’s protagonist exists as a writer referred to as The Master (Mark Leonard Winter), and the world of Pontius Pilate’s (Marco Chiappi) Jerusalem who The Master is writing about.   As the Narrator falls down the rabbit hole of Bulgakov’s story the reality and ‘history’ written in Bulgakov’s pages weave together so that the missing pages of his censored and singed text are required to help the characters finally achieve closure.

REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society. Flack keeps the shiny black stage relatively bare throughout, utilizing the revolve and the energy of the performers to keep the story moving.  Simple additions convey events like the otherworldly Variety Magic Show where the satanic Woland’s (Paula Arundell) minions Korovyev (amber McMahon), Behemoth (Josh Price), and Azzazelo (Gareth Davies) reinforce the ongoing greed, vanity and gullibility of humanity.  Romaine Harper’s Costuming shifts the timeline to Emperor Tiberius’ Judaea with robes and leather sandals. 

REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society. Incorporating contemporary and site-specific references in the adaptation, Flack ensures that the work, originally written between 1928 and 1940 but not published till 1967, well after Bulgakov and Stalin’s death, still resonates with 21st century Sydney audiences.  Bulgakov had originally abandoned his novel then re-wrote it before hiding it due to censorship and criticism for earlier work and his story imitated his reality.  The issues of powerful leaders censoring writers remains in both the form of overt restriction and the silencing of artists through lack of financial support for the arts, keeping Bulgakov’s work relevant.  THE MASTER & MARGARITA also holds a mirror to society’s commercialism and greed that remains through the generations and is reinforced by the reaction of the audience.

REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society. THE MASTER & MARGARITA is a brilliantly bizarre piece of theatre presented by an incredibly talented ensemble that ensures that every performance, no matter how insane, is delivered with connection and conviction.    Entertaining, thought provoking and highly amusing.

https://belvoir.com.au/productions/master-margarita/

Photos: Brett Boardman

REVIEW: THE MASTER & MARGARITA Is A Bonkers And Bizarre But Brilliantly Executed Expression Of The Need To Keep Listening To The Artists And Dreamers Of Society.



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