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The Master and Margarita returns to the Barbican

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING its sell-out run earlier this year, Complicite’s The Master and Margarita returns to the Barbican for the Christmas season, running from December 18, 2012 (previews from December 14) to January 19, 2013.

As part of a major European tour, Complicite’s The Master and Margarita played the prestigious Cour d’honneur of the Palais des Papes at this year’s Festival d’Avignon, where Simon McBurney/Complicite was the Associate Artist.

Mikhail Bulgakov’s rich, magical realist novel with its intertwining storylines pits the power of evil against the power of compassion.

The Devil pays a visit to Stalinist Moscow in the guise of a professor of black magic and wreaks havoc in the city, exposing the hypocrisy, greed and corruption of its citizens.

Themes of love, compassion and the quality of mercy are explored in parallel stories that move between the fervently atheistic Moscow of the 1930s and Jerusalem at the time of Procurator Pontius Pilate during the last days of Jesus’ life.

Bulgakov worked on The Master and Margarita for twelve years and it was published posthumously in 1967, quickly acquiring cult status. The enigmas at the heart of this poetic maelstrom of a novel remain timeless and prescient, affirming Bulgakov’s place as one of Russia’s greatest 20th-century writers.

The Master and Margarita is directed by Simon McBurney and features an ensemble cast from many of Complicite’s landmark productions, with set design by award-winning Es Devlin who designed the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The production, which is performed in English, has costume design by Christina Cunningham, lighting by Paul Anderson, sound by Gareth Fry, video design by Finn Ross and puppetry by Blind Summit Theatre.

Tickets: £16 – £42 – available from the box office on 0845 120 7511 or online at

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.15pm (also 1.30pm matinées on December 22 and 29 and January 5); Sunday matinée at 4pm on December 30. No performances on December 16, 23 – 26 and 31 and January 1, 6 and 13.

Running Time: 195 minutes (plus interval).

NB: The production contains nudity and is suitable for ages 14+.

Autumn 2012 at the Barbican