«Dogs of Europe” in Adelaide: A Dystopian Masterpiece by Belarus Free Theatre
Within the hallowed halls of theater, «Dogs of Europe,» a creation of Belarus Free Theatre, emerges as an enthralling and disquieting experience. This production, based on the forbidden novel by Alhierd Bacharevič, unveils a chilling tableau of a Europe torn asunder.
This underground production, created in Minsk in 2020 through the lens of Zoom, unfolds in two captivating acts. In the first, we are thrust into the heart of the Russian Reich, where Aliaksei Naranovich’s electric performance commands attention. Alongside him, Stanislava Shablinskaya’s portrayal of a spy adds a layer of intrigue. This segment, teetering on the edge of surreal absurdity, casts a stark light on the horrors of totalitarianism.
The second act sees Naranovich metamorphose into a German detective navigating a fractured Europe divided between the Russian Reich and the League of European States. Here, the scarcity and prohibition of books symbolize the erasure of cultural identities, echoing the real-world suppression of Belarusian culture.
The stage is a mesmerizing spectacle, adorned with Pythonesque graphics, surreal visuals, and eerie echoes of Goya. Mark and Marichka Marczyk’s haunting music intensifies the atmosphere, weaving a tapestry of oppression and identity struggles.
Aliaksei Naranovich, a virtuoso of the stage, captivates the audience with his unparalleled range and presence. His portrayal of multiple roles leaves an indelible mark.
Within this enigmatic narrative, Kiryl Kalbasnikau’s versatility shines as he gracefully transitions between four distinct roles. Especcially it can be seen in his character Mati, a non-binary person who’s appearance in the end of the story gives an accidental but crucial twist to the show. His contribution as a dancer adds an extra layer of mesmerism to the storytelling.
«Dogs of Europe» resonates profoundly in the context of today’s geopolitical landscape, addressing themes of Russian-Ukrainian war, cultural suppression and dictatorship. The direct address to the audience and the stark images of Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens suffering from imperial Russia ground the production in the raw essence of humanity.
To conclude, «Dogs of Europe» transcends the bounds of conventional theater, leaving its indelible mark on both stage and soul. This production, an unflinching exploration of a fractured world, reminds us of the enduring power of storytelling to ignite reflection, empathy, and change. As the final curtain descends, its haunting echoes resonate, etching an unforgettable experience in the hearts of its audience.
by Edwin Green
10 March 2023
Copyright: Linda Nylind