Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha

Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha is the first of three plays in this season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint from Russia and Ukraine, curated by playwright Nicola McCartney who also directs this production. It opens in a kitchen, shortly after the death of Katya's husband Sasha. Yet this is no ordinary kitchen-sink drama. In a magical realist twist, Sasha is still present, talking with Katya and her daughter Oksana, defending himself and arguing. As the two women go through the process of mourning him, we see their changing relationship with his memory, and with what he represented to them.

The characters are strong: completely realistic, but also completely accepting of the strange aspects of their world.

Natalia Vorozhbyt's script (translated by Sasha Dugdale) is excellent. It is personal, fast paced and strange, with something of the fairy tale offset against a naturalistic story of grief. It really gives a sense of how tradition and story interact with reality and the present in a much closer way than we might like to admit. This fluidity allows for a free investigation of more diverse themes – of memory and loss, of course, but also of masculinity and nationhood. The way this domestic tale interacts with its investigation of Ukraine's political troubles is an excellent example of this.

The characters are strong: completely realistic, but also completely accepting of the strange aspects of their world. Paul Cunningham gives a compelling performance as Sasha, calling on tenderness and matter-of-fact-ness as the play demands. Jenny Hulse gives us a sympathetic Oksana. Jill Riddiford's Katya, however, leaves something to be desired; the role is rather a nuanced one, with Katya's strong resilience and controlling nature contrasting with her vulnerability and love, and Riddiford fails to convince.

This is, in all, a strange and beautiful piece of theatre which fully deserves the attention it is receiving. If this play is anything to go by, we can expect exciting things from the two Russian plays coming up later in the season.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

In a modest home on the outskirts of Kiev, Katya and Oksana are busy preparing a funeral meal for their beloved Sasha. A husband, a stepfather, an Army colonel. He was all these things until he dropped stone cold dead on the bathroom floor.

But Sasha isn’t going without a fight.

His women need him. His country needs him. Now more than ever. He and the others must return; they must march again. They have a solemn oath to uphold.

It’s time for the sixth wave of mobilisation. Line up!

A Play, A Pie and A Pint, in association with National Theatre of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, presents A Play, A Pie and A Pint: International Plays from Ukraine and Russia. Three new plays from Ukraine and Russia, curated by Nicola McCartney.

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