DEAR ELENA SERGEEVNA
Gate Theatre, London W11
Opened 24 January, 1991

The Gate's Women In World Theatre season opens with this 1980 social critique, banned until glasnost (remember glasnost?). Four pupils try to enlist teacher's help in falsifying exam results, but she's above bribery or threats; the night drags on into one of those claustrophobic siege sagas, complete with a ringleader who's obviously read Nietzsche and harbours ambitions of being beyond good and evil. As seems usual in these affairs, the climax combines violence with the sudden repentance of one of the malefactors, but nothing is really resolved.

The intimacy of the Gate adds to the cramped intensity of the single-room apartment setting, and the dramatic momentum is largely sustained despite several digressive teacher-pupil duologues about Morality and The Real World.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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