Initially only creating work from the Shakespeare canon, Arrows & Traps have more recently been staging other classic adaptations, including Anna Karenina and now Dostoyevsky’s Crime & Punishment. Using Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’s text, director Ross McGregor has created an evocative piece of theatre, full of fantastic performances.
Raskolnikov (Christopher Tester) an ex-law student, has committed a crime. He relives the events in his mind, through the help of the detective Porfiry (Stephen MacNeice) and a prostitute named Sonia (Christina Baston). By conjuring each person relating to the crime in his head, he is forced to search for redemption. As he pursues answers, more questions about his psychological state and religious outlook arise, unveiling what lead him to his criminality.
The play puts emphasis on the language of the characters, so the text itself is an important focal point, relying on the actors to perform them well. Tester performs Raskolnikov with a brilliant balance of intelligence and conflict. The development of his character from a man obsessed with becoming extraordinary to his descent into madness is exquisite to watch. However, Baston stands out the most with her characterisation and ability to encompass each character she plays with ease and strength, giving a commendable performance.
Karl Swinyard’s lighting coupled with the limited set and only three performers gives this a very intimate feel. McGegor’s choice in doing that allows the actors to focus on their characters, prioritising the storytelling element of the piece. The ensemble cleverly draws you into the small space, and you’re soon eager to find out more about the protagonist.
Arrows & Traps have successfully created an engaging adaptation of Crime & Punishment where the performers have you hooked from beginning to end. There is never a dull moment, and with such a great text to work with, what appears on stage is a striking piece of theatre.
Crime & Punishment is at the Jack Studio Theatre until 25th February.