This is a curious piece to launch the new season at The Ustinov, it is very short at under an hour and the evening would no doubt be better balanced with an offer of a second piece or a contrasting writer to give the audience a fuller experience of play wrights from Belarus.
The Harvest could be considered a farce, there are 4 young people whose task is to pick apples and yet are unable to do this. The crate breaks, the ladders fall and the apples are bruised which confuse the set task. The political message is clear, the intentions of this young people are good, howeverthey are foolish, arrogant and incapable of small tasks such as fixing the crate, despite having all the necessary tools to do so.
It is fair to assume that they are hampered by the fall out of Chernobyl, they are medicated and slow at tasks with poor attention span. There is little emotional connection with each other and have little understanding of the natural world.
Pryazhko has a voice here that is disguising the much bigger issues in Russia, the apples and the characters are channels for commentary on the political regime and the breakdown of the world around them. If the message was more direct the play would not be performed.
The young cast of Dafydd Llyr Thomas, Beth Park, DyfanDwyfor and Lindsey Campbell all work well with the difficult material. The slick direction from Michael Boyd created great shapes and situations from the repetitive routines; whilst the design by Madeleine Girling is both stark and attractive.
I could understand some audience members feeling a little short changed from this play as a standalone piece when there is such high expectation from the Ustinov, finishing in under an hour with a full price tag is a lot to ask of an audience in the current climate.
** – (2 Stars)