TAKE THE RUBBISH OUT, SASHA (Two Ukrainian Plays) at Finborough Theatre

TAKE THE RUBBISH OUT, SASHA (Two Ukrainian Plays) at Finborough Theatre

The Finborough Theatre has mounted a prescient and very welcome evening of plays by Ukrainian writers under the title Two Ukrainian Plays. Alongside a monologue by Neda Nezhdana, Pussycat in Memory of Darkness, the theatre is showing Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s 3-hander Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha.

A mother and her heavily pregnant daughter are planning the memorial picnic (a Ukrainian custom, we discover) for Sasha, a husband, father, and a colonel in the Ukrainian army. Sasha has just had a fatal heart-attack in the bathroom of their apartment, and his ghostly presence observes the preparations for his wake.

The play was written in 2014, when the Russian army annexed the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, a year before the Russian army occupied the Crimea in southern Ukraine, seven years before the Russian army invaded all of Ukraine. As Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s programme note says: “Eight years

have passed and everything that I described in the play, only much worse, has happened to the whole of Ukraine, hit all of us and touched all of you.” The foreshadowing of the current tragedy is a powerful driver of the play’s reception, and a considered aspect of the Finborough’s programming – it is part of the Finborough’s commitment to the international #VoicesFromUkraine season, presenting the work of contemporary Ukrainian playwrights in response to the Russian invasion. The history is powerful, the immediacy of the production is vital. It’s important, however, to separate timeliness from accomplishment. Should worthy, politically relevant work get a pass if it is less than brilliantly written? Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s play Bad Roads, presented at the Royal Court in 2017, was a superb collection of short plays, including autobiographical pieces, and it was incendiary with anger at what was happening to her homeland.

This play (Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha) is an earlier, slighter, magic-realist piece that reflects on masculinity, the burden on women when men go off to play at soldiers, and the conclusion in which the Ukrainian army becomes a lot more significant. It is politically relevant, tremendously worthy, and a touch sentimental – Sasha’s roles in society, in his employment, in his position in the home, are less clearly drawn than they could be, the memories of his life with his wife and daughter are vivid in the play-text, less well presented on stage. Natal’ya Vorozhbit is a considerable talent, her relevance as a Ukrainian writer at this moment in history is great, the Finborough is to be lauded for making these plays available. Are they the best things on in London? No. Are they important, and informative? Very much so. So, three and a half stars for execution, four and a half for relevance. And they should be seen.

Images: Charles Flint

Box Office https://finboroughtheatre.co.uk/production/two-ukrainian-plays/


Amanda Ryan, Alan Cox and Issy Knowles

Translator, Take The Rubbish Out, Sasha


Set and Costume Design


Lighting Design


Sound Design


Video Design


Director, Take The Rubbish Out, Sasha


© 2023 Arik Weismann