Voices from Ukraine II – City Garage Theatre (USA), 60 min.
This production is part of the worldwide Ukranian play readings project in support of humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
A six strong cast of Nathan Dana Aldrich, Angela Beyer, Devin Davis Lorton, Peggy Flood, Lea de Carmo and Naomi Helen Weissberg perform texts translated by John Freedman with Natalia Bratus, directed by Charles A Duncombe.
Presenting the work of six Ukranian writers, Voices from Ukraine II is a script-in-hand reading where the material is strong, literal, and powerful. These are pieces that speak of a nation resilient and proud of the cities and countryside around them.
A country proud of its independence of the Soviet Union, the Russian regine. A country that looks forward to being part of Europe. This is a collation of material to condemn the invasion and the war and to highlight the strength of those crushed by conflict.
The pieces performed are Just Tell No One (Oksana Savchenko, read by Weissberg and de Carmo), Hocus Pocus (Liudmyla Tymoshenko), The Russians Are Coming (Yelena Astaseva, performed brilliantly by Beyer and Aldrich), How Not To Be A Katsup (Oksana Grytsenko), Snuff Films (Andriy Bondarenko) and How to Talk to the Dead (Anastasiia Kosodii).
A strong showcase with good performances and a thread of ink black humour faintly traced within a couple of the pieces while facing the fanaticism and violence of the current situation head-on.
Brig, a ghost story for film – Paper Soul (USA), 35 min.
Filmed over ten days, written and performed by J Merrill Motz, edited by Derek Lee Miller, this a chilling tale of the last survivor of the Searcy, Ol’ Matey Bo’sun, out on the Atlantic ocean, beset by creaking, half-darkness, locked in the brig,and the constant presence of malevolent ghosts.
With access to grog, dried meat, and a pipe, he stays below, “a king below decks.” As the days pass, he shares his messages with us, the curse which left all the crew “dead on their feet. ” Motz performs close and direct to the camera, spinning a strong yarn in a scary monologue.
This is an excellent nautical story of the wild seas and the terrible things that might happen on voyage back in the days of sailing ships, brigands, and storms, isolated for months at sea.
Miller’s editing gives a claustrophobic tension to proceedings as the forty days progress, and together with Motz, they make the most of what can be achieved in low-budget digital theatre.