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Who is Noskov?, Theatro Technis

Five plays written by George Noskov
Directed by George Eugeniou

Grey Foam: ★★
Turkey: ★★★

Pros: The opening and closing scenes of an empty stage with voices coming through the speakers were poignant and an excellent idea which both enthralled the audience at the beginning and caused them to leave thinking.

Cons: Sadly the space, a thrust black box theatre and stage, was not used very well by either the actors or the director. The venue seemed just too big for the small casts of both shows.

Our Verdict: A clever playwright and poet who explored philosophical ideas through basic kitchen-sink shorts is slightly let down by rushed performances and a lack of clear direction.

Courtesy of Theatro Technis

Founded in the 1950s by a number of Cypriot theatre artists, Theatro Technis has a long and respectable history and a deep connection with Camden. After moving a number of times in the last fifty years, it has now settled in an old Church House on Crowndale Road, mere minutes from Mornington Crescent Underground, and has been lucky enough to get some funding from the Lottery. However, like 99% of fringe venues, it still relies on the help and support of volunteers.

Their latest show is a collection of short plays from the writer George Noskov, a Russian born ‘poet’ who moved to London in 1991 to pursue his career before sadly dying at the age of 47 in 2010. Theatro Technis are performing five of his shorts, two a night with all five being performed on Saturday, as a tribute to this artist who is sadly little known in the theatre (he hasn’t even got a Wikipedia page!). The night I attended the group put on Grey Foam and Turkey, both deeply philosophical if you scrape away the surface. Noskov was clearly examining (‘lamenting on’ would be more apt!), how easy it is to take away a person’s ability to just be… a person.

In Grey Foam we see the Greek Goddess Aphrodite (Anna-Maria Georgiades) courted viciously by a business man (Dimitri Raft) and quietly by a poet (Otto Kosk). We watch as her gentle (if slightly too meek for such a feminist as me) nature slips from her as she becomes obsessed with the popular image of the 21st century woman; she aspires to be in glossy magazines, wear glamorous clothes and have lots of money. Meanwhile, Turkey sees a down and out couple in Russia at Christmas turn to dancing like monkeys or bears in the street as a means of begging for food.

George Noskov incorporates himself into both of these plays. In Grey Foam he appears as Jack, the voice of reason but ultimately the loser, while in Turkey he is the angry, drunk protagonist. He was clearly using these shorts to express his own interpretations of the society that exists. I got the impression from Grey Foam that he was a bit of a feminist, encouraging women to be who they want to be rather than who they think society wants them to be. However, Turkey uses the classic ideas surrounding Russian communism (clashes of the proletariat and bourgeoisie) and seemed like a clear example of anger at the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the 21st century.

Unfortunately, while I think the writing is clever and thoughtful, I just wasn’t convinced by the performances. I think all of the actors could have put more into their portrayals, especially in Grey Foam and definitely when they weren’t actually talking. There seemed to be very little direction, and this unfortunately led to the actors pacing a stage which seemed far too large for the production. It became mechanical, repetitive and unconvincing. I think Grey Foam would have worked better if it been staged in a more abstract manner to match the surreal situation. This would have allowed the audience to really take in what Noskov was saying while not being distracted by the off-putting attempts at natural performances. Turkey was more of a success performance and direction wise. Belen Diaz was heart-breaking as Olga, reduced to dancing in the street for a scrap of meat, and Eimantas Minkelis gave the perfect level to his drunk yet intelligent George.

Overall George Noskov’s works allow the audience to look deep into the meaning of being a human, sometimes through absurd and surreal situations. While I think his plays are interesting, I don’t think they are performed to their utmost on this occasion. Grey Foam is an incongruous and unrealistic situation which doesn’t work when performed naturally, and although Turkey was better performed it left less of an imprint on me.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Who is Noskov? runs at Theatro Technis until 24th November 2012.
Box Office: 020 7387 6617 or book online at http://www.theatrotechnis.com/show.php?id=87

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