Stalin's Daughter

Svetlana Alliluyeva was Stalin’s only daughter. She controversially defected to the West in 1967 and travelled between the US and UK.

Cox’s performance is engaging, convincing and masterful and she drives the piece with vigor.

This play by David Lane is about Svetlana’s escape from her tyrannical father and his brutal regime. It follows her as she arrives in the West where she happily embraces the new customs and colloquial language and the joy of having a greengrocer on the corner of her street. But against this idyll she is battling with the horrors of her past and forces herself to constantly look away from the fear by religiously repeating ‘Tomorrow I make new memories’.

I was unsure of how much of this play was fact and how much was fiction. This Svetlana clearly suffers from mental illness; she changes personality and identity and has an imaginary perfect secret friend. She has had to leave her children behind in Russia to escape the horror and tries to start a new life where she can be as ordinary as possible and fit into society without ever standing out. She changes her name from Phyllis to Angela to Stephanie and joins the WI, has takeaways on Thursdays and is smitten with local Greengrocer Vince, who tries to break through her multiple defensive personalities.

I found the lighting very distracting but I’m not sure if this was the fault of the design or the rig. Ed Viney slickly directed the show and Kirsty Cox gives a masterful and compelling performance as Svetlana. It would have benefitted greatly from losing about ten minutes as I found myself flagging towards the end, but Cox’s performance is engaging, convincing and masterful and she drives the piece with vigor. It deserves a bigger audience than the eleven of us it got tonight.

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The Blurb

“People were a lot more emotional and honest in those days. If they didn’t like life the way it was, they shot themselves”. Leaving three husbands and the fall of the Soviet Union in her wake, Svetlana Alliluyeva seeks a place to reflect on the horrors of her past and to escape her father’s name. What was behind her desire to seek sanctuary in Bristol? And is there ever a place you can call home when you are the daughter of a monster? "Vivid, disturbing and utterly fascinating" **** (The Times).