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Noël Coward Theatre              

4.0Reviewer's rating

The faded scarlet opulence of the Noël Coward theatre now hosts the lurid hues of Peter Morgan’s Almeida Transfer, Patriots.

Tom Hollander masterfully embodies the difficult but brilliant Boris Berezovsky, delivering a seminal performance. The play follows Berezovsky’s perspective and pivotal contribution to the rise of Vladimir Putin, played with evolving nuance by Will Keen. Hollander’s delicate dulcet tones are sporadically injected with vocal outpourings and powerful musical and multi-media crescendoes. Rupert Goold’s direction strikes a deft, mercurial pace. The play conveys the atmosphere of post-soviet Russia, its flaws and joys, the personalities of its people and its continuity with the pride of the earliest Tsarist kingdoms. Alongside the exploration of Putin’s rise, Berezovsky’s is equally explored, with Ronald Guttman offering an excellent performance as his maths tutor, a man who perhaps does not understand the bounds of maternal love.

The play is beset with the question of Berezovsky’s intentions. Whether he truly is trying to ‘save’ Russia, or just accumulate wealth and power. The answer does not become clear. The title Patriots refers to the myriad of interpretations of patriotism, whether through the methods of Berezovsky, or Putin. As the play progresses Keen’s Putin becomes sharper, both in dress and action, some of which is no doubt the progenitor of current Russian policy. In a powerful moment between Roman Abramovich and Putin, Putin shouts on a mountaintop and echoed screams envelop the audience. A foreboding message of the pain Putin has been and will be a part of.

Miriam Buether crafts a charismatic and adaptable set. At once a gaudy bar, classroom or chandelier-laden Kremlin. The play delivers chunks of information elegantly but perhaps requires a knowing audience, one which can register the self-conscious dramatic irony which is pervasive within the production.

Patriots fundamentally is a story of loss. A loss of freedom, pride and life.

  • Drama
  • Writer: Peter Morgan
  • Director: Rupert Goold
  • Photo Credit Marc Brenner
  • Cast Includes: Tom Hollander, Will Keen, Luke Thallon
  • Noël Coward Theatre              
  • Until: 19th August 2023
  • Running Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Hugo Shapero is an undergraduate student at London School of Economics, studying Modern History. He is co-founder of LSE International Media and Journalism Society and has a wide ranging interest in diverse aspects of theatre.

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