Over the last few months I have been workshopping and rehearsing a breathtaking new play by Dianne Stubbings, The Parricide, about a tumultuous period in the life of Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. WG have just completed an exhausting three-week season at Melbourne’s respected La Mama theatre.
The play – winner of an R. E. Ross Trust Award – condenses about twenty years of Russian (and Dostoyevsky’s personal) history into six weeks of imagined plot. It is an absolute gift for an actor – imagine all the vicissitudes you experience in a few decades of your life, then imagine those of someone like post-Siberian Dostoyevsky, writing the era-defining novels of Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov while battling debilitating epilepsy, set against the backdrop of violent, revolutionary Petersburg… and live it over a seventy-minute play.
Diane’s writing – although dealing with such heavy-sounding subject matter – was poetic, funny, and achingly real. It is what convinced me to do the piece, even when I had no idea how it could possibly be staged. Karen Berger’s wise direction and Christine Urquhart and Doug Montgomery’s evocative, sometimes surreal design, in the intimate space of the original La Mama theatre (another bucket list item ticked!), brought the piece to life in ways in I’d never envisioned.
The cast is one of such incredible actors; some I have always admired and wanted to work with – Nick Simpson-Deeks and Olivia Monticciolo – and some I have worked with before and have been aching to do so again – Zoe Ellerton-Ashley and Daniel Last. All four actors play two characters each: one real from Dostoyevsky’s life, and one fictional from the novel he is writing in his head. The actors switch between them on stage effortlessly and are such an immeasurable pleasure to work with. So committed; so giving. Such an honour!
I hope to see this piece developed further and taken onto a bigger stage one day, and hope I can tackle the wonderful, terrible world of Fedya again.