REVIEW: A Russian Doll at Barn Theatre
Leon Hades McKormack
- Credit: Eve Dunlop
I’ve always considered myself a somewhat paranoid (or should that be ‘realistically cautious’) person when it comes to what we share on the internet.
Any time we use a social media platform or corporate website, we present the deepest details of our personal lives in a myriad of different ways that are totally beyond the awareness of the average user, so it would only be natural for a host of anonymous third parties to abuse this unnoticed breach of privacy.
We live in an age where our personal information is no longer sacred; it’s now spread across the furthest reaches of the web through tracking cookies and data buyouts (look at the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal for a recent example). In the wrong hands, this information can make a perfect foundation for cyber terrorists to abuse our deepest insecurities to further their own political agendas.
This is, in essence, among the core themes of A Russian Doll, which details the story of a Russian student, Masha, who is seduced into a world of cyber espionage, spreading misinformation to the British public at the behest of her government.
As Masha directly addresses the audience as the British public, we see her at her most human, as she falters in her judgement, loses her temper, and shares her most personal thoughts, which makes for a deeply relatable experience. While watching this character making hurried justifications for her actions and thoughts, an interesting facet of the story is brought to focus: Masha is neither the hero, nor the villain of the story.
Masha as a character stands as an unsettling warning that any one of us can be used as a weapon by our state. She is purely a victim of circumstance to the events that transpire, initially unaware of the state’s intentions with her, and this innocence is what allows her to be so easily manipulated by her government.
I believe that A Russian Doll is an important piece to see in our current political atmosphere, where any one of us is vulnerable to misinformation, political corruption, and fighting a war we potentially don’t even believe in.
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The Orwellian nightmare we often joke about is in fact real, and the first step in fighting back is understanding the nature of this secret war, and the people who fight on its bewildering frontlines.
A Russian Doll is at Barn Theatre until Saturday, June 12, 2021. Beeches Rd, Cirencester, GL7 1BN, tel: 01285 648255, barntheatre.org.uk