Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB and FSB agent, emigrated to the UK in 2000 due to persecution resulting from his revealing of the illegal practices carried out by the Russian secret services. He settled in London with his wife Marina and his son. It was in one of the local hotels that two Russian agents met him at the beginning of November 2006. However, their plan to poison Litvinenko with radioactive polonium 21O was only partially successful - he drank only a little of the contaminated green tea and remained alive for another three weeks. And he testified. He accused not only the Russian secret services of his death, but also the Russian president. To this day, the Kremlin denies any connection to the case.
The British playwright Lucy Prebble (born 1980), despite providing a detailed description of the entire case, presents the viewer not only with a pure docudrama, but also masterfully utilises the theatrical potential of the theme. A suggestive kaleidoscope of situations is created, alternating genres and time planes, as well as the perspective from which the story is viewed. The retrospective form offers the possibility of comments, but also notifications of essential details. Gradually, everything comes together in a strong drama. The theatrical reconstruction of a well-known case seems to be the only way to achieve justice. That is the reason Alexander's wife Marina decides to go through with it at all. Even if it means going against the most powerful.
The play A Very Expensive Poison is based on the book of the same name by Luke Harding and had its world premiere at the beginning of September 2019 at the Old Vic Theater in London. The Švanda Theatre invited Thomas Zielinski, who works on domestic and foreign stages, to direct the play.
CHARACTERS AND CAST
MARINA LITVINENKO: Anna Stropnická
ALEXANDR LITVINENKO: Petr Lněnička
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Robert Jašków
LUGOVOI / DR. GRUNNER: Tomáš Červinek
RADIOLOGIST / KOVTUN / FSB OFFICER 2 / YOUNG MAN 2: Matěj Anděl
INSPECTOR HYATT: Martin Veliký
BORIS BEREZOVSKIJ / DETECTIVE HOAR: Tomáš Petřík
EMMERSON / KAMISHNIKOV / FSB OFFICER 3 / SCARAMELLA: David Punčochář
DR. BHATT / LJUBA: Bohdana Pavlíková
DR. DUDHIWALA / GALINA / STEWARDESS: Andrea Buršová
RECEPTIONIST / FSB OFFICER 1 / SERGEI / MARTIN: Petr Buchta
WALTER / PROF. DOMBEY / DR. VIRCHIUS: Miroslav Hruška
YOUNG MAN 1 / ANATOLIJ / TIM / PHOTOGRAPHER: Vlastimil Žwak
NURSE MICHEN / FRIEND OF NATALIE / CLEANER: Kristýna Jedličková
NURSE DAVID / NATALIA: Simona Lewandowská
MISS UKRAINE: Klára Vosmíková
VOICE THERESA MAY: Marie Štípková
TRANSLATION: Ester Žantovská
DIRECTOR AND STAGE DESIGN: Thomas Zielinski
DRAMATURGY: Martina Kinská
COSTUMES: Andrea Králová
MUSIC: Ivan Acher
STAGE MANAGER AND ASSISTANT TO DIRECTOR: Blanka Popková
PRODUCTION: Tereza Marková
A Very Expensive Poison was first staged by The Old Vic in London on August 20, 2019. The director was John Crowley. The copyright for the dramatic text in the Czech Republic is represented by Aura-Pont, s.r.o., Veslařský ostrov 62, 147 00 Praha 4.