Pussy Riot: Riot Days

Pussy Riot Adelaide Fringe 2019RCC Fringe. RCC Fringe – The Attic. 27 Feb 2019

 

One’s first task is to find The Attic! It’s actually the old UniBar on the 6th floor of Union House. Inside, the crowd’s anticipation is palpable. Perhaps you have seen the famous photo of Pussy Riot mounting the Lobnoye Mesto of Red Square in Moscow, waving a banner, wearing balaclavas and shaking their fists angrily at the post-Soviet oligarchic system? If not, it’s in the RCC program.

 

The Russian Orthodox Church expressly supported Putin in his emperor-like bid for an unprecedented third term in the 2012 presidential election. And the pussies rioted. The “iconic Russian feminist punk rock performance art collective” smuggled a guitar and amp into a church and danced furiously. Thrown out rather banally, they thought that was the end of it. But three of the five revolutionaries were later arrested, convicted of “organized hooliganism” and two were sent off to Gulag-like imprisonment. One of the jailbirds, Maria Alyokhina, wrote an account of the experience – Riot Days - and this show – lead by Maria - is a musical and visual interpretation of the events of the book.

 

At the beginning of the show, the Russian producer explains that there is no musical entity called Pussy Riot as such, but that for the first time, four key members of the “iconic Russian feminist punk rock performance art collective” will be playing together on stage. This is history in the making! They are accompanied by a couple of menfolk.

 

Even if you are not bowled over by the hard-driving, deep bass throb of post-punk apocalyptic thumping by a bunch of emos, one must appreciate what these brave women have done. They took on one of the most powerful authoritarian governments in the world because they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it any more, and are definitely unbowed by the business.

 

The music is chaotic and raw. A narrative is shouted in spoken Russian and English surtitles overprint the still and moving image media which is, unfortunately, a little difficult to see in The Attic, and a shame, because it is the heart of the matter. The material is graphic and a terrific insight into the Russian justice system, such as it is. The show is tetchy, edgy, dangerous and unpredictable – things could spiral out of control.

 

While not accomplished art, it is compelling performance work, and exciting. A unique insight into the events of those dangerous days. The stuff Fringe is made of. Bravo! 

 

David Grybowski

4 Stars

 

When: 27 Feb to 3 Mar

Where: RCC Fringe – The Attic

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

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