Communicado's version of Athol Fugard's 1987 grim comedy is a delight. Incredibly, the story of Soviet army deserter Pavel Ivanovich's 44 years spent in hiding in a stall behind a pigsty is a true one, on to which Fugard builds musings upon freedom and psychological, as well as physical, confinement. Gerry Mulgrew and Gerda Stevenson mesh excellently as Pavel and his wife Praskoya, ever ready to deploy a dash of matter-of-fact bathos when the script threatens to grow too portentous. In an inspired stroke, director Kenneth Glenaan punctuates the action with music from a trio of brass players; their pieces range from martial oompah to Philip Glassy arpeggios, but most magically they lurk behind the corrugated iron and boards which separate Pavel's stall from the sty, periodically oinking and snuffling through their instruments. Unalloyed joy.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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