This year’s Camden Fringe programme is unusually international, and one of the early highlights is the Eno River Players’ production of Dead Souls at the brilliant Etcetera Theatre.
Corruption, manipulation and deceit have threaded themselves through Russian history for centuries. With the current result a being rapacious invasion, there could not be a better time to peer into the darkness that haunts Europe’s eastern edges.
Directed by Leo Egger, this is the first English-language production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s theatrical take on Nikolai Gogol’s famous 19th-century novel.
The literary classic tells the story of scheming Pavel Chichikov’s travels through provincial Russia, where he buys serfs who are in fact dead but are still considered taxable property for official purposes.
Dictatorship-weary Bulgakov turned the tale into a play in Soviet times, adding his own sardonic touches.
Both a scathing critique of social degeneracy and a ribald romp, the drama features the versatile acting trio of Hamzah Jhaveri, Dominic Sullivan and Nico Tayor in a menagerie of nearly two dozen different roles and an incongruous clutch of accents.
The result is a hugely entertaining seventy minutes and well worth a visit.
Dead Souls runs on 3-5 and 7 August at Etcetera Theatre.