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This two part theatrical piece from Russian director Dimitry Krymov explores the darker chapters of Russian history. The first is Genealogy, providing a tangential commentary on the Russian persecution of Jews in black and white, black paint against white cardboard background. It is mostly performed without words, with great and sometimes magical use of cardboard cutting/cut out. It is dark and, by design, monotonous in tone and pace but it feels slow and drags at times.

The second part Shostakovich chronicles the constraint the Russian state imposed on the composer. A giant puppet of mother Russia dominates the stage and the diminutive composer makes an unsubtle point, set to the music of Shostakovich. There are plenty more inventive staging with the well choreographed clashing of the spinning metal pianos and the domestic scene with Shostakovich playing his music at home while being controlled by a host of others. The message is clear but its relentlessness gets tiresome towards the end.

There are plenty of variety in staging and clear sets of visual imagery but the deficiencies in the storytelling and narrative means it falls short of greatness. Part of LIFT 2014, this festival is proofing to show plenty of imagination but lacking in execution and excellence.

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