The Master and Margarita: A Graphic Novel by Mikhail BulgakovThe Master and the Margarita, beautifully painted in this stunning graphic novel, follows the devil and his retinue as they systematically wreak havoc in Moscow. Caught up in the chaos are two lovers: The Master, a writer broken by criticisms of his novel about Pontius Pilate, and Margarita, for whom the devil has his own plans. Initially banned by the very bureaucracy it criticised, Bulgakovs satirical novel comes to life in this new adaptation. Mixing absurdity and erudition, it depicts fantastical events with a macabre humour, contrasting mischief and murder with humility and love.
Nicola's Book Club - "The Master and Margarita"
Theatre Review: The Master and Margarita by Complicite
A production that emerged in November at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, sold out at the Barbican in March of this year, did a summer tour of Europe, culminating at Le Palais des Papes in Avignon, is back at the Barbican over the Christmas holiday period. But what it has gained in clarity it has lost in Grotowskian rawness, in emotional energy that grabbed the throat and squeezed the tear ducts. In this reshuffle, the doubling has altered too: a doubling which made greater sense before when betrayer Judas and informer Aloysius Mogarych were one and the same. One misses these clever links between Moscow and Jerusalem, though thankfully most of the original cast remain: Tim Mullan as Pilate, Cesar Sarachu an emaciated Christ, Richard Katz as Ivan Bezdomny and the ensemble acting is sleepwalking slick. And thank goodness, the exceptional Paul Rhys is still the electrifying Master—in every sense—playing the Devil in his own story. Previously it was Margarita. And, in any case, the cat Behemoth not only means hippopotamus in Russian but was the name of a satirical journal is too scrawny puppet by Blind Summit for my liking.
I f God is dead, then surely the devil can't exist either. We're in Stalinist Moscow in the s, and an editor called Mikhail Berlioz is promoting the party line on atheism, until he finds himself losing his head and his certainties. The devil has turned up in a park; soon he and Behemoth — a lewd, human-sized cat puppet with glittering red eyes — have taken up residence in Berlioz's flat and are wreaking havoc. Meanwhile, a writer known as the Master, writing a novel about Jesus and Pontius Pilate, has been incarcerated in a mental asylum. His devoted lover, Margarita Susan Lynch , is determined to find him — even if that means making a Faustian pact with the devil.
Simon McBurney brings dazzling technology to his Bulgakov adaptation but little clarity. A Sondheim evergreen, meanwhile, is as fresh as ever. Demons do not exist any more than gods do, said Sigmund Freud. Bezdomny has seen Satan sloping around Stalin's Moscow with a gang of fiends, including Behemoth — a black cat who stands as high as a man on his hind legs, and can talk. It's a spring evening: shafts of fading light; the rumble of passing trams.
The Master and Margarita by Complicite at the Barbican is a stunning show full of surprises.
I t is not quite true to say that Mikhail Bulgakov's novel, written between and , is unadaptable. I saw a famous production by Yuri Lyubimov in Moscow in , and Edward Kemp successfully adapted the book for Steven Pimlott's Chichester production. Kemp is also co-author, with Simon McBurney, of this new version of The Master and Margarita, produced with the theatre company Complicite. McBurney's production has moments of characteristic visual brilliance, but it also batters the senses in a way that leaves you faintly exhausted. Why is the book so difficult to do? Partly because of its mixture of styles, partly because of its multiple narratives. Bulgakov starts with the satirical idea of Satan, in the shape of the black-clad Woland, turning up in Stalin's Moscow.