“Collaborators” at The Modern

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Posted December 13, 2011 by Jimmy Fowler in Blotch
SIMON RUSSELL BEALE AS STALIN AND ALEX JENNINGS AS BULGAKOV IN NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE’S “COLLABORATORS” AT THE MODERN.

SIMON RUSSELL BEALE AS STALIN AND ALEX JENNINGS AS BULGAKOV IN NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE’S “COLLABORATORS” AT THE MODERN.

The artist as conscientious objector is a cultural meme that many of us cherish. But throughout history, there’s been no shortage of creative types who’ve traded their artistic integrity – not to mention their souls — to hobnob with the truly awful elites of their day. (Leni Riefenstahl, anyone?). You don’t get more awful than the Soviet monster Joseph Stalin, who caused the death by starvation of millions of his fellow Russians, just for starters. The strange real-life association between Stalin and the novelist/playwright Mikail Bulgakov in 1938 Russia is explored in the National Theatre Live broadcast of John Hodge’s satire Collaborators. Amphibian Productions presents a high-def video version of director Nicholas Hytner’s recent London stage production at 2 and 7pm this Thursday (Dec 15) at The Modern. Tix are $10-$18.

Playwright Hodge, who wrote the script for the nighmarish 1996 Danny Boyle film Trainspotting, imagines similarly hellish if more cerebral comic scenarios in Collaborators. With good intentions, Bulgakov agrees to work with Stalin on a play that absurdly celebrates the dictator’s youth. In doing so, the artist careens down a slippery slope into all kinds of grotesque compromises and temptations. Take a break from all that holiday good cheer and take in the Fort Worth broadcast of this lavishly praised play.


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