AMBITION is not something that has ever seemed to trouble Russians.
Global revolution, five-year plans and trips to outer space all attempted with varying degrees of success throughout the last 100 years.
The specially commissioned Durnenkov brothers play The Drunks makes a determined effort to encompass a breathtaking number of themes in a breakneck two hours of superb theatre.
Wounded Illya returns home to a provincial town after a head wound fighting in the Chechen War.
He is under strict doctor’s orders not to drink alcohol, and is seemingly the only character in the play who makes any attempt to refuse drink.
However he cannot resist the traditional tipple, succumbing to the allure of vodka and drunkenness.
This leads to a run-in with the local police chief who has political ambitions of his own that will lead to a conflict with the incumbent mayor.
The two candidates initiate a tug-of-war over the ‘hero’ Illya, both seeking to exploit him for their own gain.
However the play is only partially about Illya, it also dwells on politics, memory, journalism, history and war. The fast moving pace of Russian history in the last 20 years is shown through the changing tastes in pop music and fashion through the medium of karaoke in a memorable nightclub scene.
In fact all of the creative set design is of the highest quality, a perfect compliment to the acting talents and enthralling story.
There is a lot to the The Drunks, the themes intertwine each other, but you barely have time to consider them before there is something else for you to think about.
It is astonishingly crammed full of ideas and inventiveness, whilst still providing regular laughs and huge entertainment.
An ambitious play it is, but one that fulfils its own lofty aims.