Theatre review: Crime and Punishment

Adam Best and George Costigan. Picture: Tim Morozzo
Adam Best and George Costigan. Picture: Tim Morozzo
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Can the act of murder ever be justified? Chris Hannan revives the classic Russian novel by Dostoyevsky and presents this psychological thriller in a refreshing new light.

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Royal Lyceum theatre

Dostoyevsky’s story throws us into the mindset of a down and out ex-student, Raskolnikov. Penniless and hungry, he commits to a brutal double murder. Haunted by his spontaneous actions, his only form of redemption comes from a downtrodden prostitute, Sonya.

A book that still torments most Higher English students; this is indeed a unique and imaginative approach to such a complex story.

Colin Richmond’s set design strips the stage to the bare bones, exposing every brick and scaffolding of the back stage area. With furniture, costumes and musical instruments strewn across the stage, nothing goes untouched. Chris Davey’s lighting design also sets each scene beautifully and successfully manages to create high tension within certain 
scenarios.

Consisting of ten cast members, each performer never leaves your sight and you constantly find them busy doing something on stage. Playing instruments, changing costumes, silently muttering to one and other or even transforming into a choir. Their capability to work in such an environment definitely shows off their talent.

However, despite such a large cast, this can easily be seen as a one-man show. Adam Best’s performance as our anti-hero, Raskolnikov, makes for an extremely compelling viewing experience. Reeking of depravity, Best takes an axe to the fourth wall and debates with his audience over his prejudiced surroundings.

It’s a bold move for Hannan to adapt this book for the stage. Though he does well at condensing the 500-page novel and even bringing out the humour within Dostoyevsky’s work, it’s still a very challenging piece. With so much happening around this character, the pathos soon starts to linger as the performance wears on.

Some scenes may feel timeless, and even surreal, but trying to keep up with such sporadic storylines and characters, you find yourself, at times, losing touch with Raskolnikov and the justification for his actions.

However, it’s fair to say that Hannan has made this heavy piece a lot more accessible for audiences

• Runs until November 9