Dark comedy strikes in latest Loft show

Craig Shelton as Joseph Stalin and Phil Reynolds as Mikhail Bulkakov
Craig Shelton as Joseph Stalin and Phil Reynolds as Mikhail Bulkakov

A dark sense of humour and dramatic battles with freedom will burst onto the stage at the latest Loft theatre production this month.

Collaborators is the latest show at the Leamington theatre, and tells the story of Mikhail Bulgakov, a writer who is commissioned to write a play about dictator Joseph Stalin’s 60th birthday.

The tale is set in 1938 Moscow - a dangerous place to have a sense of humour or sense of freedom.

Mikhail- who lives among dissidents and is stalked by the secret police - has both. He is then offered a poisoned chalice ­of a commission to write the play celebrating Stalin’s birthday.

The darkly menacing comic drama runs on the themes of suppression of free expression and the effect that living under the rule of tyranny has on the daily lives of ordinary people.

Directed by Gordon Vallins, the main protagonists are played by Phil Reynolds (Mikhail Bulgakov) and Craig Shelton (Stalin).

Gordon said: “Collaborators is gripping like a thriller, laughter-­making because it is comic, and unsettling because we fear for the lives of its characters and wonder what we might do in a similar situation.”

The screenplay was the first by John Hodge who went on to adapt Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and The Beach.

It includes amongst its cast a cheerful secret policeman, a doctor more interested in sex than medical treatment, an anxious wife, and a group of actors rehearsing a play about revolution.

Collaborators runs at The Victoria Colonnade theatre for one week from February 14.

Performances are at 7.30pm each night except Sunday.

For tickets, visit www.loft-theatre.co.uk or contact the box office on 0844 493 4938.