Beethoven in Stalingrad

War is a constant in our lives; a part of the combined human experience that while intensely distressing seems an integral and inherent aspect of what it is to be human. Most of us will never fight or experience war beyond what you read and hear on the news, but Beethoven in Stalingrad is a piece of theatre that brings you close to the mindset of a soldier living his final days.

As the lights dim, Peaston’s beautiful violin playing finally comes to the fore and brings home the messages of the piece.

The play takes 12 true stories of men from the frontline in Stalingrad, with their final undelivered letters providing the basis of the script. The letters, sent from Gumrak airport, were censored by the army due to the fact that only two percent of them were positive towards the war. Twinned with the knowledge that these letters have unknown authors and recipients, this fact provides Arin’s production with excellent subject matter.

The emotive and powerful performance of Jesper Arin provides the focus of the play with his dramatic interpretations of letters sent to family and friends from the German frontline in Stalingrad, proving intensely brutal in its emotional honesty.

The themes of the letters are universal, and that’s exactly what makes this piece of theatre so powerful. The authors of the letters speak of love, trauma, grief, religion, and fear, and while the letters are distressing or hopeful, they all convey the same ultimate emotion, one of complete and utter distraction from what was about to happen – their death.

The music in the show is perhaps undervalued by the production, for the majority of the performance the sounds coming from Ian Peaston are eerie and ethereal, setting the mood for Arin’s performance. However Peaston is guilty of using the effect button too much, with the music often sounding more like a car alarm than a violin.

Peaston, and the show as a whole is saved by the final five minutes. Arin, reading one of the letters, speaks about how someone began to play Beethoven on a piano to the soldiers squatting in Red Square, and as the lights dim, Peaston’s beautiful violin playing finally comes to the fore and brings home the messages of the piece.

Reviews by Conor Matchett

The Assembly Rooms

Soweto Spiritual Singers: The Return

★★★★
Spotlites

Beethoven in Stalingrad

★★★★
SpaceTriplex

Blues! Roots of the Blues

★★★★
Banshee Labyrinth

Skeptics on the Fringe 2015

★★★★
St Andrew's and St George's West, George St

A Beggar for a Miracle: A Fan’s Life in Football

★★★
The Assembly Rooms

Charlotte Green: The News is Read

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Beethoven in Stalingrad. Christmas 1942. The war has twisted boys into men. Twelve true stories explore the deepest existential questions – survival, faith, love – here intertwined with a live deconstruction of music by Beethoven. Scottish violinist Ian Peaston unravels and remixes the Appassionata in distorted electronic strands that mirror the narratives of real soldiers’ letters from Stalingrad, adapted and performed by Swedish actor Jesper Arin. ‘Flawless and unique musical experience!’ ***** (ThreeWeeks) for Peaston’s essens:1. ‘A masterclass in the art of storytelling’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). ***** (ThreeWeeks), for Arin’s monologue Evil.

Most Popular See More

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets