Play featuring ‘last words’ of women accused of crimes in Russia to debut in UK

A political play conceived in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is set to premiere in the UK.

The production, based on the final statements of women accused and convicted of political crimes in Russian courts, was derived from an idea by actress Alisa Khazanova – who stars in the play alongside Valentin Tszin.

It features the “last words” of defendants including Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of punk band Pussy Riot, artist Sasha Skochilenko and Alla Gutnikova, the editor of student magazine Doxa.

“The production explores how these powerful, outspoken messages from the courtroom form one of the last surviving bastions of free speech imaginable in contemporary Russia,” the Wild Yak production company said.

The Maxim Didenko-directed performance titled The Last Word, will run at the Marylebone Theatre from September 5-21, with opening night on September 9.

The play blends the defendants’ final statements with poems and excerpts from the memoirs of human rights activist Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Booker Prize nominee Maria Stepanova “painting a timely and devastating picture of Russia’s current regime”, Wild Yak said.

It was first performed in Berlin in December 2022.

“Today’s reality throws the notion of Russian culture into stark relief,” Khazanova said.

“As an artist, I cannot remain neutral in the fight to wrestle our history and values from the grip of a revanchist regime bent on a brutal war.

“Giving a voice to women who are denied the right to free speech in today’s Russia is both my act of solidarity with those women and my act of resistance to a barbaric dictatorship waging an unjust war.”

The Last Word reunites the creative team behind a production of The White Factory at the Marylebone Theatre last year, including artists and leading cultural figures from Russia who fled the country after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Tickets go on general sale on Thursday June 27.