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Crime & Punishment

Crime & Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky

12 - 19 October 2013

Miles Jenner

Adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus

Followed by afterpiece Polly Honeycombe


Performances

Sat 7:45pm, Mon 7:45pm, Tue 7:45pm, Wed 7:45pm, Thu 7:45pm, Fri 7:45pm, Sat 2:45pm, Sat 7:45pm

Synopsis

Considered to be the world’s first psychological thriller, Crime & Punishment is a gripping detective story with a fascinating, complex central character. Set in St Petersburg during the mid-nineteenth century, it revolves around Raskolnikov – an impoverished student who kills an unscrupulous pawnbroker, arguing that he can use her wealth to perform good deeds and counterbalance the crime while ridding the world of worthless vermin. His belief that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose is undermined by a growing paranoia that isolates him from mankind, nature and truth. With no evidence to convict him, his ultimate confession is an act of redemption. He has been described as “a timeless, rootless, disillusioned angry young man (whose) own existential problems are especially relevant today.”

“Stunningly lean, taut and emotionally searing……A work of theatre that never feels like a condensation of a seminal 500 page novel, but rather has the swift, sharp impact of a blow from an axe” – Chicago Sun-Times.

Director's Notes

Our 75th Season opens with an award-winning adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus. Originally produced at the Writers’ Theatre in America, one review described it as “stunningly lean, taut and emotionally searing…a work of theatre that never feels like a condensation of a seminal 500-page novel, but rather has the swift, sharp impact of a blow from an axe.”

As a prelude, on Friday 20 September at 7.45 pm Dr. Sarah J Young of University College, London, will lecture at the theatre. She is the UK representative on the International Dostoyevsky Society and has written extensively on his works.

Please put these dates in your diary. Many have expressed interest - including staff at the Russian Embassy in London - and we hope to start the new season in style.

Review

Dostoyesvsky’s novel Crime and Punishment was first published in The Russian Messenger in 1866, after his return from ten years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is the first great novel of his mature period of writing. It is thought to be the world’s first psychological thriller and the character of Porfiry was apparently the inspiration behind the detective series Columbo. Dostoyevsky conceived the idea of the novel in the summer of 1865, having gambled away much of his fortune, unable to pay his bills or afford proper meals. At the time he owed large sums of money to creditors, and was trying to help the family of his brother Mikhail, who had died in early 1864.

With Miles Jenner directing, LLT opened their season with an award-winning stage adaptation of the novel by actress/playwright Marilyn Campbell and director/writer Curt Columbus. A 90 minute, three-person play, with characters playing multiple roles, originally produced at the Writers’ Theatre in America, one review described it as “stunningly lean, taut and emotionally searing … a work of theatre that never feels like a condensation of a seminal 500-page novel, but rather has the swift, sharp impact of a blow from an axe.”

The play focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who plans to kill an unscrupulous elderly pawnbroker for her cash. Jonny Fitzpatrick brought passion and commitment to a challenging role. In a part that demands the complete understanding and assimilation of Raskolnikov’s complex psychological state and anguish, he was brave and focused, finding the right blend of kindness and sympathy for human struggles and a proud, idealistic egotism that has become twisted. David Williams as the detective Porfiry was quietly commanding and compelling as he seemingly befriended Raskolnikov but, in actuality, manipulated his confession. David’s subtle vocal command succeeded in squeezing every nuance out of the script. Also, playing Sonya’s drunkard father, whose inability to provide for his family has forced his daughter to become a prostitute, he captured the self-pitying aspect well. Jennifer Henley playing young Sonya, a girl forced into prostitution but justifying it by hanging on to her Christian values, was moving and had a lovely simplicity. She also played the pawnbroker who Raskolikov murders and her sweet natured sister Lizaveta managing two very different characters with ease. I particularly liked her as Raskolnikov’s mother who appears to him in his hour of need.

The symbolism of the simple set worked well with Julian Bell’s striking centrepiece painting of The Raising of Lazarus. Incidentally, the colour yellow features in the novel as a symbol of suffering and mental anguish hence the figure of the yellow man at the heart of the painting.

It was wonderful to see this adaptation, which has been widely praised for bringing the novel’s powerful and thought provoking themes into sharp focus, performed and directed with care and a lot of thought.

Lucie Fitchet

Cast

Character Played by
Raskolnikov Jonny Fitzpatrick
Porfiry David Williams
Sonia Jennifer Henley