Patriots ★★★★ Noël Coward Theatre | May 26 - Aug 19, 2023

Patriots raises the curtain on life in the Kremlin after the collapse of the USSR. Based on real events, the show chronicles the rise of the oligarchs under Yeltsin and their eventual subjugation by Putin. It is an absorbing recounting of how the leading oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, plucked the young Putin from political obscurity only to realise that his putative puppet was determined to master the wily puppeteer. It is a byzantine story of intrigue and ego and Peter Morgan connects the dots to create a dark portrait of the rise of the current Russian dictator that is chilling and intense. Any news media consumer will recall the various names invoked, like Roman Abramovich and Alexander Litvinenko, but Morgan's work very interestingly ties their stories into the main plotline and exposes the consequences of acquiescence or resistance to Putin's emerging dominance. The dialogue sometimes seems a bit awkward and too expository, but the plotline of the two principals struggling for power under the guise of different forms of patriotism is utterly compelling. There are no heroes here. It is only about the assertion of will and an unquenchable thirst for control. Tom Hollander presents Berezovsky as the more engaging of the two, but his inhumanity is certainly equal to that of the reptilian portrayal of Putin by Will Keen. Berezovsky's backstory as a mathematical child prodigy sheds some light on his ability to view his behaviour in the context of a game or an application of abstract principles, but Putin remains an enigma. Both men cast their actions as an extension of some form of patriotism, either sentimental or imperial, but the title of the play rings heavily with irony after its viewing.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Marc Brenner.

Want to save on tickets? See our Tips page.

When, Where, Getting there:

Most Popular

São Paulo Dance Company ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | February 9 & 10, 2024

The Hills of California ★★★★ Harold Pinter Theatre | Jan 27 - Jun 15, 2024

Naked Boys Singing, The Garden Theatre at The Eagle - ★★★★ - Until October 25, 2020

St. Martin in-the-fields: Lunchtime Concerts ★★★★ FREE

This Might Not Be It ★★★★★ Bush Theatre | Jan 30 - Mar 7, 2024

Bronco Billy – The Musical ★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Jan 24 - Apr 7, 2024

The Handmaid’s Tale ★★★ London Coliseum | February 1 - 15, 2024

Before After ★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Feb 7 - Mar 2, 2024

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie ★★★★ Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre | Feb 8 - Mar 23, 2024

Colonel Saab ★★★★★ Trafalgar Square | 2024

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings