The War Has Not Yet Started by Mikhail Durnenkov

Sputnik is delighted that one of the four plays presented at Power, Politics and Performance in January 2016 is being produced by Theatre Royal Plymouth from 12 – 28 May 2016.

A surreal black comedy by Mikhail Durnekov

You think your life is normal, but things are not always what they seem…

In twelve short modern fables, Durnenkov explores the fears and strangeness of our daily lives – sexual gamesmanship; what to do with our ageing parents; those lying politicians; tension at the airports; those lying journalists; finding ‘the one’.

Things happen, but no one can see the connections in the war has not yet started– darkly humorous, weird, unsettling and even ghastly on occasion, this surreal black comedy sees everyday people fighting everyday wars.

Mikhail Durnekov is a major stage, screen and television talent based in Moscow. His play, The Drunks, written with his brother, was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Writer – Mikhail Durnenkov
Translation – Noah Birksted-Breen
Director – Michael Fentiman
Set & Costume Designer – James Cotterill
Lighting Designer – Tim Lutkin
Sound Designer – Nuno Rocha Santos
Casting Director – Stephen Moore
Assistant Director – Chloe Mashiter

David Birrell, Tamzin Griffin, Joshua James

Review in The Stage:

“The War Has Not Yet Started review at Drum Theatre, Plymouth – ‘hilarious and startling’

by Chris White – May 17, 2016

Verdict: 4 stars – “Hilarious and startling play about conflict in all its forms”

Russian playwright Mikhail Durnenkov says of his own play, The War Has Not Yet Started that he wanted “to create a testament to everything which is happening to us today.” Which is a tall order for a show which lasts around an hour and half. But under Michael Fentiman’s direction, the production pulls its threads tautly together, making from them something tangible and very powerful.

The play is composed of 12 vignettes that can be placed in any order. They are well-managed by Fentiman, balancing the light and shade. There could be any number of actors performing the numerous roles, but in this particular production there are just three; David Birrell, Tamzin Griffin and Joshua James. All three performances are dazzlingly intense. James’ performance, in particular, is incredibly well-suited to the text – abrupt in delivery, he skims between blackly comic and genuinely unsettling.

All the characters are like facets of the same collective modern identity; they are mistrustful, reactionary and deeply paranoid. Age and gender aren’t always important in regards to who plays who; these people are representative of a bigger idea. The vignettes veer from terrifying domestic violence to a surreal and very funny encounter at a swimming pool. And though occasionally Durnenkov’s barrage of scenes feels overly-ambitious or a little tumultuous, the gripping performances and potent sound and lighting design hold it all together.





  • About Us

    Sputnik is a British theatre company dedicated to sourcing, translating and producing new Russian drama for British audiences.

    There are several strands to Sputnik's work including:
    - producing new Russian plays in the UK
    - programming and organising the Russian Theatre Festival in London
    - developing Russian playwriting through commissions and exchanges
    - outreach work bringing drama to disadvantaged young people
    - cultural events with Russian literature and music

    Why Russia?
    Russia has a history of theatrical innovation. Russian playwrights have played a significant role in shaping modern European theatre.

    Contemporary playwriting in Russia has been going through an important and innovative period since 1991 with a prolific output by predominantly young dramatists.

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