The Master and Margarita

A new adaption of a classic 20th-century Russian novel with black magic, evil-doers and a central love story

Review by Nine | 05 Aug 2007

A tormented writer burns his masterpiece and retreats into a mental institution, while his lover, Margarita, yearns for his return. A mysterious practitioner of black magic shows up in Moscow with a murderous brigade, who before long terrorise the literary elite, hold a ball for all the evil-doers of hell, twisting the love story of the Master and Margarita into a surreal satire of Communist Russia.

This is a new adaption of a classic 20th-century Russian novel, condensed to just under an hour and a half. Once in a while play seems to momentarily lose the audience, but overall, the cast pull off the translation from book to stage extremely well. Still, for those unaquainted with the novel, the chances of grasping every jink in the storyline are much slimmer.

Any production of such a highbrow affair which has a range of fantastical elements is ambitious, but on the whole this version is successful. Original music by Anthony Willis sets the scene perfectly and various cunning low-budget solutions convey the magical events. Considering the whole cast are under 22 and that they play a total of 20 characters, The Master and Margarita is impressive – even if it remains a little rough around the edges.