Between 4-8th April, the Nottingham Playhouse brought Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead to life. Impact’s Victoria Mileson reviews.
Based on Olga Tokarczuk’s best-selling novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead made for an engaging performance on the limits of climate activism.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead tells the story of a remote Polish village rocked by a series of seemingly impossible murders of members of the hunting club. Janina, who is riddled with grief over the death of her two dogs – “my girls” – suggests the local animal community is seeking its revenge.
They were a true example of how contrasting characters can make for the most interesting of scenes
Complicité theatre company’s adaptation of the novel exposes our relationship with the animal world, and more specifically ecocide: the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems.
Each and every character was fully immersed in every role they played but Amanda Hadingue and César Sarachu stood out. They were a true example of how contrasting characters can make for the most interesting of scenes.
Amanda Hadingue was completely captivating. She plays Janina, and delivers a three-hour monologue broken up by scenes with other characters, and it doesn’t feel scripted at all. Janina is an ex-engineer, teacher, astrologer, translator of William Blake and a devout protector of the natural world: a multi-layered character that Amanda masters.
César also managed the impossible
Her character is eccentric but relatable, and Amanda’s portrayal of her reminds the audience that she is just a human being too – she is just a woman telling her story, making jokes about husbands and shouting at Oddball. Whether she was directly addressing the audience or carrying the plot forward by establishing trust with other characters, her performance was flawless.
César also managed the impossible, taking on the challenging role of playing the ‘Oddball’ character without breaking the audience’s immersion. He provided comic relief within such dark subject matter but still communicated the importance of protecting the world we live in.
The lighting is also optimised for a story about our relationship with animals. White flashes of light put you in the hot seat, literally as a deer in the headlights. The projection screen is also used to great advantage with harrowing images of animal hunts reminding the audience throughout that animals are not trophies. It’s definitely a difficult watch in some places but there are also some funny moments – not ones that will have you in stitches, but entertaining nonetheless.
It’s a murder mystery meets dark feminist comedy which also pays tribute to William Blake and our natural world. It does a lot, and it does it well, but most importantly, it doesn’t shy away from the importance of protecting the world around us.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article video courtesy of @complicitetheatre via Instagram.com. No changes were made to this video.
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