translated by Nina Raine
Nina Raine adapted this satirical play for the RSC as part of their four-year celebration of Russian Theatre. Its original authors, Russian brothers Mikhail and Vyacheslav Durnenkov, have written over thirty plays, both individually and together, and have had their work produced throughout the world.
A provincial town is in search of a hero. A shell-shocked soldier downs vodka on his return from the frontline in Chechnya. As Ilya arrives home from the hell of war, he finds himself beaten up and thrown off a train for being drunk. When he finally makes it home, he discovers his wife has cuckolded him with a new man and is informed of their son’s death. The mayor, the police chief and editor of the local newspaper immediately descend upon him eager to capitalise on his tragic story. Ilya discovers himself locked into an extraordinary power struggle that threatens to tear the town apart. The play owes something of a debt to the work of Nikolai Gogol in its exploration of small-town politics and the avarice of human beings.
The Drunks was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2009.