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  Brother Russia at Signature Theatre

Brother Russia

Signature Theatre
4200 Campbell Avenue Arlington

In a desolate potato field north of Omsk, a comically fourth-rate Russian theatre troupe sets up its tents and wows the local farmers with rock-fueled adaptations of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Tonight, however, the company will toss classic literature aside to showcase the life story of their impresario and star, the seemingly immortal Brother Russia – more commonly known as Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. Yes, that Rasputin: the hypnotic mystic who seduced and ruled the Tsar and Tsarina in the waning days of Imperial Russia.

Thru - Apr 15, 2012

Running Time: 2 hours 30 mins with 1 intermission

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  Brother Russia Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Examiner - Highly Recommended

"... But my worries were unfounded, as the world premiere musical instantly made clear. Set in present day Siberia, the play opens with a rather Bohemian band of traveling thespians, setting up a performance. What follows is a play-within-a-play, as our performers, under the guidance of the wheelchair bound Brother Russia (John Lescault), tell the story of Rasputin’s voyage from abandoned kid to wandering con-artist/faith healer, to personal mystic to the Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their daughter Anastasia."

Kyle Osborne

MetroWeekly - Recommended

"... A promising first act yields to a shakier second, which feels padded out with formulaic, uninspired fare such as ''Vodka'' (all about… no, I'll let you guess) and ''The Great War,'' as well as a stream of angsty anthems that become increasingly hard to tell apart. The show culminates in an overlong, bloated speech by Brother Russia about the power, relevance and necessity of theater. The thing is, brother, when that's your message to people who've bothered to come to the theater in the first place, you're preaching to the choir in a most unnecessary way."

Jonathan Padget

WeLoveDC - Somewhat Recommended

"... Signature Theater’s Brother Russia is a pleasant enough musical, combining a talented cast, some catchy songs, and beautiful and clever staging. But the end result of turning the corrupt Mad Monk into a (sort of) redemptive and (very vaguely) redeemed mystic figure is odd and unsatisfying. It’s not the oddest use ever of Grigori Rasputin by a long shot,but the story doesn’t live up to the music and the production."
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City Paper - Not Recommended

"... Count me among that last lot: Brother Russia is a stylish heap of hooey that doesn’t have the first idea what it wants to be, an exercise in tail-chasing so loud and so loopily miscalibrated that it’s almost entertaining just to watch it go speeding off the rails."
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Trey Graham

Washingtonian - Recommended

"... Director Eric Schaeffer amps up the rock factor, so the Russian actors sport goth makeup, fishnets, and punk tees under a marquee of colored lights, while Grigori himself rips off his clothes more than once in a particularly Tommy Lee-esque fashion. The cast is impressive, particularly Diaz, who really shines as Anastasia, and Lescault as the theater guru with a cult-like following of disciples. But as Grigori/Rasputin, Doug Kreeger lacks menace--he's far more believable as the handsome, misunderstood stray who falls in love with a princess than he is as the embodiment of evil incarnate. Dempsey and Rowe may have wanted us to see a softer side of Rasputin, but portraying one of history's most sinister villains as a priapic but kind-hearted con man nevertheless leaves us feeling a little robbed."
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Sophie Gilbert

BrightestYoungThings - Recommended

"... Performing several exquisite duets, Kreeger and Diaz’s chemistry and connection is irrepressible. Although Brother Russia takes a decent amount of creative license in the retelling of Rasputin’s story, authors John Dempsey and Dana Rowe weave an energetically entertaining (albeit fictionalized) romp through Russian history, almost leaving the viewer gasping for breath between the powerful and modern aesthetics of Brother Russia’s song, dance and dialog."
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Rachel Eisley

Washington Blade - Somewhat Recommended

"... In the end, Brother Russia is called out on his historical inaccuracies by the company’s irate manager (Russell Sunday). Ah ha, so this is where everything will make sense, right?Unfortunately, what feels like a tacked-on explanation is unsatisfying. Evidently, this is Brother Russia’s reality, and his proof of the eternal power of theater and the Russian spirit … or something."
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Patrick Folliard

Alexandria Times - Somewhat Recommended

"... My issue with the show is it swings in and out of quasi-history and into sheer fiction, batting about the audience’s emotions like a tennis ball in perpetual motion. No sooner are you invested in the characters and cozily enjoying a sweeping period piece than they are lobbed back at you with sarcastic asides provided by the blustery and capricious Brother Russia and his disgruntled cast members (including Nicholas, played by the captivating Russell Sunday, who is fierce in red-patent-leather platform heels)."
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Jordan Wright

DCTheatreScene - Recommended

The world premiere of a new rock musical by the creative team of John Dempsey and Dana Rowe. Chock full of interesting characters and loaded with catchy music, Brother Russia is top-notch musical theater—until its wordy, misconceived final moments bring the show back down to earth with a resounding thud.
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Terry Ponick

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