THEATRE / David Benedict on theatre

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One of the truly great artists of the century is at work. Lynn Seymour is the movement director on Katerina and Louise Bangay (right) is, understandably, still rather astonished. 'She read the script, said she found it fascinating and agreed to do it for peanuts . . . but then it is an extraordinary play.'

Written in 1912 by Leonid Andreyev, it's the story of 'a dancing woman' rather than a pure dancer. 'She has this inner rhythm which Lynn and the composer, Mark Dyson, have brought out. At the first rehearsal, she took my hand and literally dragged me round the room. She has discovered movement motifs throughout the play. I would never have done it that way, which makes it really exciting to act.'

Not that the piece is some abstruse dance drama. Katerina is a hugely theatrical psychological drama centring on the turbulent relationship between an ambitious politician and his charismatic wife. With its overt sexuality, the original Russian production caused a major scandal. It was performed here in 1926 with the then unknown John Gielgud. 'We were going to use the original translation but we asked Jeremy Clyne to look at the Russian text and he found a whole section of it which had been censored.' Clyne then went on to do a new translation of the complete text, and Damned Poets Theatre Company has what amounts to a British premiere on its hands.

'Katerina' opens tonight at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith (081-741 8701/2311)

(Photograph omitted)

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