|"Traitor sent away to school"|
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 14/01/11
His mysterious visitor, the bright young Russian schoolteacher bringing him soup and cake, was very much a dramatic device at first - "So what happened next ?", "Which year are we in now ?" though her love of all things English and her text-book idioms did add interest. But at the end of Burgess's tale she insists that he [and we, perforce] should hear her story too. It's a strong coda, the frozen corpses in the river one of the most memorable images in a wordy piece. Margarita Nazarenko's complex Julia was a great foil for Gareth Pilkington's florid, politically naive traitor; we felt for her as her tragic story unfolded, when she became the victim of a final act of treachery.
Excellent work among the supporting characters, too: Rich Keeble's Maclean, Richard Holt's Philby, Charles Church a splendid Driberg, Robin West as Guy's best friend and drinking partner Goronwy Rees, and especially Jacob Trenerry's aristocratic Blunt, swanning in with a Poussin under his arm.
Morrison has done his research - he was with Reuter's Moscow office, and knew Maclean. I hope Burgess really was due to umpire a cricket match just before he died; I hope Tom Driberg really brought him a borrowed bat and marmalade from Sainsbury's; I hope there really were pointless seminars on The English Way of Life for agents Pushkin and Dostoevsky. Their cultural tennis, complete with bowler hats, was a comic highlight; the often witty dialogue deserved more laughs than the sparse Thursday night audience could provide, I felt.
A Morning With Guy Burgess was directed by Dimitry Devdariani, originally from Georgia. The production, with its shadowy KGB agents and its oppressive atmosphere, made the most of a script which did not always convince dramatically - it's a pity that Morrison's "concert party" did not draw a bigger crowd to the Courtyard, just round the corner from the celebrated Hoxton Music Hall.
|Event Venues & Times|
|finished||Courtyard Theatre | Bowling Green Walk, 40 Pitfield Street, London, N1 6EU|