Tansy Hoskins reviews the play Sofka based on the biography of the Red Princess; Sofka Dolgorouky
For the next month, London’s Calder Theatre Bookshop plays host to ‘Sofka’, a play about the life of a Russian princess turned communist. Written by Bahar Brunton, it is based on Sofka Zinovieff’s 2007 biography of her grandmother Sofka Dolgorouky (‘Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life’).
Born in St Petersburg in 1907, Sofka Dolgorouky later immigrated to England. She was interned by the Nazis in France during the Second World War.
The audience is welcomed into Sofka’s kitchen where she is baking bread and lovingly crafting a tureen of traditional Russian beetroot soup - a borsch. As Sofka (played by Paddy Glynn) cooks, she unfolds her story, weaving her memories around the audience and into the food.
Her life story is as gripping as you’d imagine it would be: full of revolutionary upheaval, deep suffering brought about by war and great loves tinged with loss and sadness. However the play is not gloomy. In this production, directed by Sergio Amigo, it is warm, rich and generously told. As soothing as soup in a grandmother’s kitchen but as intriguing as being handed that grandmother’s youthful love letters wrapped in a red ribbon.
The only distraction from the story is the smell of borsch and baking bread which slowly fills up the tiny theatre. However, once Sofka decides you have heard enough the bread is broken, the soup ladled into bowls and the lucky audience invited to partake; truly nourishment for the body as well as the mind.
For performance dates and further information see: http://calderbookshop.com/pagetheatre.html
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