By Kate Mulvany. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). April 1 to 30, 2017
The multi-talented Kate Mulvany has let her very vivid and extremely articulate imagination run wild in this farcical interpretation of the assassination of Rasputin, the mystic ‘monk’ who wormed his way into favour with the Russian royal family prior to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The play is a romp – a mischievous piece of theatre that pushes the boundaries of style and pace, reaching a crescendo of ridiculous, well-timed action that will either delight – or dismay.
Directed by John Sheedy on a quirkily designed set (Alicia Clements) with surprising lighting effects (Matthew Marshall), this is an extraordinary production that has the pace, action and fun of a Feydeau. And though it is not the usual fare expected by Ensemble audiences, full marks to artistic director Mark Kilmurry for taking the risk of including something a bit outrageous and edgy in the Ensemble season.
The mystery of Rasputin’s ‘powers’ and the surrealism of his assassination – he apparently survived poisoning, shooting, bludgeoning and eventually died only when he was wrapped in a carpet and drowned in an icy river – provide the background for the play.