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A Russian Doll - The Barn Theatre REVIEW

Pre-covid we could watch theatre without a worry in the world, during covid it was all about the streaming and now as the world begins to open up, a hybrid viewing seems to be the future, with the Barn Theatre in Cirencester leading the way.

Audience members had the choice to attend in person or from the comfort of their homes, as they watched the latest production from the Cotswolds theatre, entitled A Russian Doll.

This co-production between the Barn Theatre in Cirencester and London’s Arcola is an 80-minute one-woman show with Rachel Redford at the heart of it.

The play explores the world of data collection, manipulation and falsification, as Masha, a young Russian student, gets caught up creating fake social media profiles in the run up to the EU referendum.

Rachel Redford’s real and moving performance evokes sympathy which overrules her misdeeds, deceit and “third-reich” data stealing strategies. From menstrual cycles to pornography habits there isn’t anything Masha can’t delve into and use to manipulate her position in her target’s life.

With all eyes on her for over an hour, Rachel never faltered as she delivered the brilliant script, based on a true story, written by Cat Goscovitch.

The play relies heavily on the writing with little movement and a laid back direction. However, the words carry this piece with ease, making it an engaging and chilling watch.

The plot is uneventful but that is irrelevant as Rachel keeps you engaged throughout. Her reliving of conversations and scenarios draws you in further as she confides in you like a friend.

The set is perfect for the production, with black minimal scenery of desks and a metal structure with a couple of computers and small props scattered around. It doesn’t distract from Rachel’s performance yet manages to enhance the danger and coldness of the art of data extraction.

Filled with politics, intelligence and scheming, this play will leave you questioning yourself and others and always thinking twice before clicking ‘Accept all cookies'.

A Russian Doll is available to watch at the Barn Theatre or via live stream until June 12 and then at Arcola theatre’s Arcola Outside venue in London.

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