The Master and Margarita

Barbican Centre , Barbican Saturday January 19 2013 19:15
  • 4 out of 5 stars
The Master and Margarita

Complicite's titanic adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's magical realist masterpiece hasn't changed radically upon its recast return to the Barbican. That's no suprise: Complicite's efforts to cram almost the entirely of Bulgakov's story about the Devil's visit to Moscow are largely successful, but preserving so much plot tends to subsume and even occasionally marginalise the sprawling cast of characters contained therein.

Simon McBurney's production is far more a piece of storytelling than character-driven theatre, and tweaks to the cast are of relatively minor concern.

But with expectations now slightly managed following 'The Master and Margarita's warmly if not ecstatically received March premiere, it's easier to relax and allow its gargantuan three-plus hours to wash over you.

Perhaps McBurney's canniest move is to not try and render 'The Master and Margarita' in all the chaotic colours of Bulgakov's novel, but rather to restrict his palette and have everything take place in an elegiac blueish twilight. It may not quite do justice to the crazy vitality of the source text, but it conveys the uneasy tang of Stalin's Russia, and makes a fine netherworld for the satanic Professor Woland to stalk.


Venue name: Barbican Centre
Address: Silk St
Opening hours: Centre Mon-Sat 9am-11pm; Sun noon-11pm. Art Gallery Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm; Thu, Fri 10am–9pm. The Curve Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun 11am–8pm; Thu, Fri 11am–9pm
Transport: Tube: Barbican
Price: £16-£42. Runs 3hrs
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