Review: ‘The Master & Margarita’

Review of a stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘Master & Margarita’

The Oxford Culture Review

Adapting Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margaritafor the stage is, by any account, an ambitious undertaking. The novel is notorious for the multiplicity of interpretations it allows, simultaneously presenting satire, socio-political critique, philosophical allegory, and theological musing. Beyond this, Bulgakov’s prose is stylistically mercurial as he jumps between 1930s Moscow and Pontius Pilate’s Jerusalem, incorporating elements of magical realism along the way. Despite these obstacles, Magnolia Productions’interpretation is the latest in a whole host of dramatic adaptations, from Edward Kemp’s 2004 stage rendition to the BBC’s radio play broadcast earlier this year. It seems that there is something irresistible about the dramatic challenge of staging Bulgakov’s book.

Magnolia Productions opted for an outdoor setting, in the gardens of St John’s College. In many ways, this was an inspired choice —the uplit trees created fantastical shapes and shadows across the moonlit lawns (reminding me of the shadow puppets…

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