Donmar Warehouse (venue)
01 July 2019 (released)
01 July 2019
Set in a defunct railway station, in a struggling border town, Europe paints a terrifying but realistic image of the devastating impacts of industrial and economic decline. A number of short scenes unravel, each more shocking than the last, but always with a scattering of clever quips and amusing remarks to balance the despair.
The story centres around station worker Adele (Faye Marsay), who is dreaming of escape from her simple life, and two refugees, Sava (Kevork Malikyan) with his daughter Katia (Natalia Tena) who turn up to rest at the station overnight. Tena portrays conflict-hardened Katia with intensity and force, making it is easy to imagine the potential horrors she’s lived through. Her character is contrasted by Adele, depicted by Marsay as a naïve, optimistic and desperate individual who immediately falls for Katia. The women’s relationship grows and whilst there is hope that they can escape the border town for better things, Katia’s father, Sava is left behind to become a victim of increasingly violent and morbid hate crimes. The performances are all first class and capture the harrowing, and at time humorous journeys that each character goes through.
Writing this play during the Balkan conflict, David Greig highlighted the direct link between disenfranchisement and fascism. This production stays true to that message. The polarising impacts of despair play out dramatically throughout the performances, driving some to connect and support, and others to blame and attack. The message is particularly potent due to its relevance for a society dealing with Brexit uncertainty, a relevance that is both fascinating and disturbing.
Overall, a hugely engaging, moving portrayal of how desperate times bring out both the best and the worst in humanity.