FRINGE REVIEW: PUSSY RIOTRIOT DAYS, THE ATTIC, AT THE RCC, 2019

To be heard, in a world full of white noise, you have to be louder than everyone else.

Pussy Riot have been making a lot of political noise for a decade now, and their political grievances have been heard around the world – something the Russian Government have never been pleased about.

In Adelaide for the first time, to present what the Fringe guide calls ‘Theatre’, four women from the original agit-pop collective, and two of the male members of the group, delivered a frenzied, and very noisy, multi-modal Pussy Riot history lesson to a large and curious crowd in The Attic at the RCC on Wednesday night.

The show was mainly based on material from founding member Maria Alyokhina’s account of her ordeal, in the hands of the State penal system, published in her book, Riot Days.

Detailing the stories of the collective’s earliest acts of political agitation, most notably their forty second performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour where they were protesting at the alarming level of collusion between Church and State, and the Church’s brazen support of Vladimir Putin, and its aftermath, an inspiring tale of resilience and strength in the face of seemingly unsurmountable adversity emerges.

The saga of arrest, prosecution and incarceration of key members is presented amidst a barrage of percussion, chanting, recitation and frenzied movement, all in front of a screen upon which is projected documentary footage and a constant stream of English translations of the performer’s narrative.

The Adelaide crowd were mesmerised and punched the air as key slogans were shouted and projected on the screen. The unequivocal local support was not surprising, as the group’s main ideology is hard to ¬†oppose because it centres on what most of the sensible world would assert to simply be a demand for basic human rights – to love, to be, to speak without fear of punishment or political interference.

As a performance, though there were some issues.

The stage was low and the projections were behind the performers, and seeing as most of the audience could not speak Russian and needed to read the subtitles, and these were obscured for much of the performance, many of the key points and most impactful messages were lost, or at best only partially communicated.

This issue was compounded by the tallest member of the collective, a male who for much of the performance was bare chested, with abs rippling, being placed front and centre in the prime obscuring position. Giving a male this dominant stage position in what most people assume to be a fervently feminist collective was also confusing and seemed to be somewhat undermining their message.

The Pussy Riot story is certainly an astonishing one. The quotes from prosecutors and their witnesses during the trial detailed in this show are hard to believe, as is the treatment of Alyokhina whilst in prison for what ultimately came down to the ‘crime’ of singing and dancing.

A powerful insight into the continued abuses of personal freedoms that occur in Putin’s Russia.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Pussy Riot – Riot Days was performed in The Attic at the RCC on Wednesday 27 February.

Pussy Riot also perform live on the Maths Lawns at the RCC on Thursday 7 March. Tickets available HERE.

 

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