Patriotism and the eroticism of war gushes through Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s Bad Roads like blood from a wound, except there are no bandages here to lessen the gore. Set in the outskirts of Ukraine in the midst of the 2014 revolution, director Vicky Featherstone masterfully explores the spine-chilling effects war has on women.
Designer, Camilla Clarke transforms the Royal Court’s upstairs studio space into a bleak, frosty woodland with lofty tree trunks illuminated by Natasha Chivers’ chilling and sobering lighting design. As an ensemble, these two design elements work harmoniously allowing the stage to easily become an array of settings for this gut wrenching drama to play out.
The cast do well at fulfilling the comprehensive script. Burning slowly at first, the tension soon rises even though the 1hr 45minute running time does add a definite unnecessary weight to the piece. The text, divided in to six vignettes, has been beautifully translated by Sasha Dugdale, providing a beguiling poetic resonance throughout. Particular cast highlights include Ronke Adekoluejo and Ria Zmitrowicz, who grasp their characters well, multi rolling effortlessly. Zmitrowicz realises a certain naivety, one that seemingly captures the youthful innocence of any underaged girl falling in love with a brute, callous older man. Whereas Adekoluejo commands a total conviction of unsettling vehemence and pain.
Featherstone showcases the art of stage direction so explicably well that without her this piece might have collapsed under the pressure of itself. Featherstone addresses such bleak moments in such a way that she inexplicably forces her audience to imagine the unimaginable. Nothing is too bitter for Featherstone to hurl at the audience, she wants this piece to pack a punch. Luckily for her it does more than this - it totally obliterates. - Niall Hunt