Collaborators

★ ★ ★ ★
‘Rare and special… An absurdly fantastic view of Stalin, and it’s seriously funny.’
The Times

Photomontage of Stalin as puppetmaster of Bulgakov

Collaborators

a new play by John Hodge

Collaborators was extended with a run in the Olivier Theatre.

Moscow, 1938. A dangerous place to have a sense of humour; even more so a sense of freedom. Mikhail Bulgakov, living among dissidents, stalked by secret police, has both. And then he’s offered a poisoned chalice: a commission to write a play about Stalin to celebrate his sixtieth birthday.

Inspired by historical fact, Collaborators embarks on a surreal journey into the fevered imagination of the writer as he loses himself in a macabre and disturbingly funny relationship with the omnipotent subject of his drama.

Killing my enemies is easy. The challenge is to change the way they think, to control their minds. And I think I controlled yours pretty well. In years to come, I’ll be able to say: Bulgakov? Yeah, we even trained him. He gave up. He saw the light. We broke him, we can break anybody. It’s man versus monster, Mikhail. And the monster always wins.

John Hodge’s blistering new play depicts a lethal game of cat and mouse through which the appalling compromises and humiliations inflicted on any artist by those with power are held up to scrutiny.

Alex Jennings played Bulgakov and Simon Russell Beale, Stalin.

This production ran from 25 October 2011 to 31 March 2012

original photos © Corbis

  • War Horse
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Collage of a boy on a rubbish heap with a passenger jet flying overhead
  • The Hard Problem
  • Man and Superman poster, with Ralph Fiennes. Photography by Juergen Teller
  • Rules for Living. Instruction image for combining people and objects
  • Parades banner for Light Shining in Buckinghamshire
  • Everyman - a figure in a bleak space with cartoon finger pointing down at his head
  • The Beaux' Stratagem - Portrait of an 18th century woman, collaged and retouched
  • The Red Lion. Blurred figure holding a football in a doorway, lit from behind
  • London Road film poster. Cast members leaning and looking through an interior window
  • The Motherf**cker with the Hat. Illustration of a head with a hat but no face
  • We Want You to Watch. Female head with wide open mouth and wide open mouths for eyes
  • A Declaration from the People. A graffiti-style wall mural with the title and a sunburst on a brick wall
  • An Oak Tree. Instructional diagram of one male figure raising and lowering another with their hand, as if by magic
  • Brainstorm. Teenage boy with blue exploding head
  • Three Days in the Country: A woman's arms against a tree trunk
  • Our Country's Good: illustration of a figure in the distance with a manacle on the fore-ground
  • People, Places and Things. Superimposed photo of a woman's head with her face repeated twice, once in red once blue
  • Jane Eyre. Woman in a pale dress with an image of flames projected onto her
  • wonder.land - a grinning cartoon cat