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Boris Godunov - Jack Studio Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BALLAST Theatre is presenting Howard Colyer’s adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Godunov at the Jack Studio Theatre – from Tuesday, January 13 to Saturday, January 31, 2015.

Is it possible?
This chaos?
These threats?
He must be mad!
But his madness is catching.
A madman is roaming Russia like a disease.

Moscow 1598. Ivan the Terrible is dead, as are all his sons, and now with seeming reluctance Boris Godunov wears the crown. But word spreads that Dimitry, the prince thought to be murdered, was not truly slain, but is alive and gathering an army to overthrow Russia’s government.

Boris Godunov is Pushkin’s greatest play – an epic of civil war, lies, deception, rumours and betrayal.

Boris Godunov is directed by Scott Le Crass, Associate Director at Omnibus, Clapham, who has previously directed six of Colyer’s plays: Diary of a Madman, Marriage, Flight, Conference Call, Mandrake and Homework.

Howard Colyer is a playwright and novelist. He has previously adapted Gogol’s stories Diary of a Madman and The Overcoat for performance at the Jack Studio; his adaptation of Marriage opened there in June this year and he is currently working on a new version of The Government Inspector. In addition, his plays include: Flight (2014), Never Have I Seen Mount Fuji (2013), Mandrake (2013), Trojan Women (2013), Kafka v Kafka (2012), Finchley Road (2012) and Homework (2011).

Boris Godunov ruled Russia from 1598 to 1605. Pushkin wrote his play more than two hundred years later, but it was still a contemporary work. Despite the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the ideas of the French Revolution continued to weaken the kings of Europe. Their legitimacy was at stake, as was illustrated by the Decembrist Revolt of 1825. Against the new ideas they had armies and spies and countless policemen; but all the kings’ men couldn’t quell the doubts about their divine right to power – Humpty Dumpty had truly fallen off the wall.

In the play, ‘Dimitry’ is the revolutionary word – the son of Ivan the Terrible who apparently returns from the grave. But other words could easily be substituted. The play shows an autocrat struggling to stem the spread of an idea, and the advance of the rag-tag army it has inspired – an army with powerful foreign support. With little more than a change of costume the play could be about many places in the world today.

Boris Godunov is suitable for ages for 14+.

Tickets: £14, £11 concessions – available from the box office on 0333 666 3366 (£1.50 booking charge for phone sales only) or online at

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.45pm.

The London premiere of David Bown’s Loaded continues at the Jack Studio Theatre until November 29, 2014. It will be followed – from December 9, 2014 to January, 4, 2015 – by the UK premiere of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment.