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Based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

7th - 25th February 2017

Brockley Jack Studio

Adapted by Marilyn Campbell & Curt Columbus

Directed by Ross McGregor

Movement Direction: Will Pinchin

Lighting Design: Karl Swinyard

Costume: Odin Corie

Scenic Artist: Luke Ridge

Props: Gareth Kearns

Set Construction: Spencer Lee Osborne

Sound Designer: Gareth Kearns

PR: Kate Bannister

Poster Photography: Lloyd Warbey

Production Photographer: Davor Tovarlaza

Casting Assistants: Gemma Salter & Cornelia Baumann


Christina Baston as Sonia / Pulcheria / Lizaveta / Alyona

Stephen MacNeice as Porfiry / Marmeladov / Koch / Tradesman 

Christopher Tester as Raskolnikov

Crime & Punishment
Christopher Tester as Raskolnikov
Christopher Tester as Raskolnikov
Stephen MacNeice as Porfiry
Christopher Tester as Raskolnikov
Stephen MacNeice as Porfiry


"Raskolnikov, bright but poor, can't stick at his law degree, can't get paid for his writing and can't make relationships work. He sits in his tiny St Petersburg room, too hot and too cold, and contemplates Napoleon's power and Lazarus's resurrection. Down to his last possessions to pawn for the money to eat, he rationalises his intended murder of the pawnbroker as an improvement of the world, all things considered, a "worthless" human being removed and a "worthy" human being (him, natch) able to participate fully in it at last - the sum of human happiness thus increased.

"If that's the Napoleon aspect of his gnawing ideology, the Lazarus element comes in after the deed (botched of course, Raskolnikov also does in the pawnbroker's sister who happened upon the scene), when the failed student is wracked with guilt, searching, with his not quite lover, pious prostitute, Sonia, for salvation that won't quite materialise, even for a pocket Napoleon.

"Meanwhile, Detective Porfiry keeps dropping by, initially as much to satisfy an intellectual curiosity in this troubled young man, then, as he understands the mind of Raskolnikov more and maps the parallels and divergences with his own, he becomes convinced that he has his killer.

"Sorry about the length there, but even that's a summary of a summary, Dostoyevsky's novel pared back in this adaptation by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus, presented in 90 breathless minutes by Arrows and Traps Theatre Company. If some of the book's layering and complexity is forsaken, well many would say that such concision is exactly what's needed when it comes to 19th century Russian novels.

"Christopher Tester, gaunt, angry, permanently on edge, stalks the space as Raskolnikov, one moment a step away from espousing theories of the master race, the next handing over what little money he has for a funeral. He can't understand why he's where he is in society's pecking order and can't work out what to do about it. Tester, testy in the role, anchors the drama and navigates the torrent of ideas in the text with admirable clarity.

"The other characters are played by Christina Baston and Stephen MacNeice, aided by a few costume changes and one of two ropey accents. Baston clutches her cross in a nunnish habit of virginal white offset by tousled blonde hair, capturing well the paradox of the religious woman forced to sell her body to feed her feckless family. MacNeice is all oily charm as Detective Porfiry, overly invested in Raskolnikov's proto-fascism, but desperate to solve the puzzle of the double murders, if not quite so keen to lock up his suspect. The game's the thing for him.

"It's all very intense and the trio of actors never drop their guard - and, with convincing and imaginative sound design by Gareth Kearns and sure-footed direction by Ross MacGregor, that's not an option. It's not exactly entertaining, but I found myself pondering Raskolnikov's "Napoleon" question with regard to the 2013 Parliamentary vote not to bomb Syria and its reversal in 2015; and also with the current debate about social care funding, particularly the kind of numbers that actuarial science produces. There are plenty of Raskolnikovs around today, though few as bold. The production has hit home."

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ -Gary Naylor - BROADWAY WORLD

"Arrows & Traps return to the Jack Studio in triumphant form with Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’s adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Pared down into a 90-minute production, the psychological punch of this doorstop of a novel is enhanced rather than diluted. There are no filler lines – everything uttered, every single action, is important and revealing.  

"Raskolnikov’s conviction that extraordinary people can commit crimes for the greater good of humanity crumbles in the aftermath of the murder of the old pawnbroker and her innocent sister. Conversations take place back to back, characters prowl constantly in circles around the set as the isolation and motivations are revealed. The idea of redemption is constantly haunting Raskolnikov as the story of Lazarus and belief in God are questioned and his intellectual theories and morality collide. The fractured timeline, full of memories, dreams and the seemingly benign probing of Inspector Porfiry portrays the darkness and torment of Raskolnikov with chilling and enthralling skill. This is a play that grabs you by the balls and doesn’t release its grip until the cast take their bows.

"Christopher Tester is phenomenal as Raskolnikov – capturing the initial intellectual arrogance so well that his final confession and acceptance of his true nature is all the more devastating. Christina Baston multitasks in the female roles with great skill, but it is her pure and self-sacrificing Sonia that is most effecting. The moment she loses herself completely in telling the tale of Lazarus after initially struggling to read it is glorious. Stephen MacNeice also plays multiple roles effortlessly. His charming and dogged Porfiry is basically a prototype Lt. Columbo, with his admiration for the suspect always bubbling away as he tries to catch him out. None of these actors puts a foot wrong – utterly captivating performances.

"Director Ross McGregor has a fantastic track record in finding the right atmosphere for a play – the minimal set and masterful lighting design ramps up the confusion and tension, and the musical choices are, as ever just brilliant. From the murder played out in slow motion to Exit Music, to the Doctor Zhivago-esque rendition of modern classics in the bar scenes, this is pitch perfect.

"You’ll probably need a drink when you leave the theatre – this play will put you through the emotional wringer. Stunning."


"Arrows & Traps have done it again! After their compelling production of Anna Karenina, the company returns to the Jack Studio Theatre with yet another Russian classic - Fyodor Dostoevsky's first great novel Crime and Punishment,adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus.

"Raskolnikov, a former law student, murders an old pawnbroker and her sister to prove a theory. In the aftermath of his heinous crime, Raskolnikov battles with his conscience, going through a variety of emotions, from justification to guilt, from despair to empowerment. He is eventually forced to face his guilt by the contact with two characters — the deeply religious Sonia, whose life has been one long path of suffering, and the clear-sighted Porfiry, who is charged with investigating the murder. 

"The brilliant adaptation by Campbell and Columbus does not attempt to bring a detailed account of the novel to the stage. Instead it distills the essence of Dostoevsky's novel and focuses on the major themes. The play is a psychological thriller that takes us into the mind of a murderer. Everything revolves around Raskolnikov as he relives his memories and the thoughts that drove him to the crime.

"Whilst being interrogated by Porfiry, Raskolnikov argues his theory that extraordinary people have an inner right to overstep certain boundaries and to dispose of people who hinder their grand plans, using Napoleon Bonaparte as an example. He refuses to be tricked by Porfiry into a confession, telling the inspector that he - as a superior being - can see through his indulgent act. However, Porfiry is convinced that Raskolnikov will confess in the end as a murderer is "like a moth circling a flame".

"As Raskolnikov relives his memories, he reveals his feelings for Sonia who is willing to do anything to keep her family afloat, whilst being tormented by her ailing stepmother and left to her own device by her useless drunkard of a father. Still Sonia remains compassionate and pious whilst Raskolnikov embraces a nihilistic world view. Sonia realises Raskolnikov's isolation and loneliness when she tells him:" There is no one in the world as unhappy as you."

"Ross McGregor's intense and imaginative production does justice to Dostoevsky's masterpiece. Christopher Tester is outstanding as the tormented Raskolnikov as he goes through myriad emotions, sometimes speaking directly to the audience. Christina Baston portrays Sonia as vulnerable and strong at the same time. Baston also plays all the other female characters in the play, including the murdered pawnbroker Alyona, her gentle sister Lizaveta, and Raskolnikov's long-suffering mother. Stephen MacNeice convinces as the soft-spoken inspector Porfiry as well as Sonia's drunken father Marmeladov. Both actors manage even rapid transitions between their various characters smoothly and with great skill.

"Set in the time of the novel, the actors are wearing authentic period costumes, designed by Ross McGregor. The simple set by Luke Ridge consists of a few chairs, a table and a sofa. Quotes and keywords from the novel are written across two columns framing the wall that also includes a window, drawn with white chalk. Gareth Kearns' soundtrack adds to the unsettling atmosphere of the play.  

"An impressive adaptation of a classic that should not be missed."


"In the centenary year of the Russian Revolution, Arrows & Traps have got in early with their production of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. But put aside any off-putting thoughts of epic 600-page novels; this short, sharp adaptation by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus cuts straight to the heart of the story and is all over in a gripping hour and a half.

"Focusing less on either the crime or the punishment, instead this adaptation gives us a disturbing insight into the mind of a murderer during the days between the two. By the time the play begins, the murder – of an elderly pawnbroker and her sister – has already been committed, and Raskolnikov (Christopher Tester) finds himself drawn into a cat and mouse game of psychological warfare with police inspector Porfiry (Stephen MacNeice), who’s convinced of his guilt. In desperation Raskolnikov turns to Sonia (Christina Baston), a virtuous young woman forced into prostitution to save her family, who offers his only chance of redemption.

"Flashbacks give the audience an opportunity to piece together the events that preceded the murder, as well as the crime itself – but also demonstrate the fractured state of mind of the killer, who himself looks back in an attempt to justify his actions. In the present, Raskolnikov explains to Porfiry that he believes some crimes – including this one – are necessary for the greater good. This is the debate at the heart of Dostoyevsky’s novel, and Campbell and Columbus’ adaptation gets straight down to it, mercilessly axeing several additional characters and plotlines, without losing any of the essence of what the story’s all about.

"Director Ross McGregor has assembled a brilliant new cast for this production. Stephen MacNeice is an affable Porfiry, a self-confessed “freeform” investigator whose complex relationship with the suspected murderer begins to feel more like that of father and son than detective and criminal. As Sonia, Christina Baston has a physical fragility that contrasts with the spiritual and moral strength that sustain her – before transforming in flashbacks into the hunched, sneering old pawnbroker who’s about to meet a messy end. But this is ultimately Raskolnikov’s story, and Christopher Tester is captivating as the tormented killer. Despite being a violent criminal driven by his own arrogance, he’s also charming, articulate and capable of great kindness… and so like the biblical Lazarus who’s referenced throughout the play, we desperately want to believe he has the potential for salvation.

"Anyone who’s seen Arrows & Traps in action before knows that they have a signature style – but they’re also not afraid to take a risk and step into new territory. Crime and Punishment is the company’s 10th production, and in a lot of ways is quite different to anything they’ve done before, with a cast of just three actors and a running time of only 90 minutes. Yet this is also recognisably an Arrows production, not just in its strong acting performances, but in the use of contemporary music, atmospheric lighting (courtesy of Karl Swinyard) and a dreamlike quality, particularly in movement director Will Pinchin’s exquisite slow-motion murder scene. (I never thought I’d be able to describe watching two old ladies get bludgeoned with an axe as beautiful, but there we go.)

"So what we really get with this production is a super-concentrated Arrows experience, stripped back to basics but bearing all the hallmarks of a company and director who know exactly what they’re doing. An intense psychological drama, the play has the entire audience holding our breath throughout, and asks some very real, and relevant, questions about the nature of crime and whether there’s actually any such thing as good and evil.

"Think you know Crime and Punishment? Think again."


"The Brockley Jack sees many productions, yet for me it is always those that are bleak and dark that work the best in this intimate space. Those with fewer actors add to the tension, with the audience’s focus never leaving each character, constantly scrutinising in an attempt to understand them.

"Arrows and Traps are magnificent in their adaptations of beloved classic tales, pulling stories apart and reconstructing them in ways that analyse the symbolism and present a new perspective on the author’s work. Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is no different, unravelled and twisted throughout by artistic director Ross McGregor in this adaptation by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus.

"With a small cast of three, the story is told with overlap of scenes being relived, once they have been mentioned, in a surreal flashback scenario. This allows those unfamiliar with the story to guess who might have done what to whom, with Raskolnikov’s unreliable reconstructions adding to the mystery of the tale. Dostoyevsky’s themes of politics, crime and absolution remain, but the story seems somehow darker and more intense.

"The three actors are perfectly cast, with Christina Baston’s vulnerability as Sonia complemented by the tortured soul of Christopher Tester’s Raskolnikov, whilst Stephen MacNeice gives a strong performance as Portiry. Both Baston and MacNeice play multiple roles, allowing them to tackle very different characters and show the true breadth of their acting ability.

"As Raskolnikov, Tester begins composed, albeit bitter, but we see him transform into a broken man, struggling to have his beliefs understood, as he torments himself with what he has done. His performance is impressively terrifying as he falls deeper and deeper into his belief of what is and is not justified.

"Trying to condense Crime and Punishment into just 90 minutes (with no interval) is no easy task, yet the second half of the play did lack the easy speed and flow of the first. That said, this is a thrilling production that once again brings a classic novel to the stage in an intelligent, yet approachable way and leaves the audience questioning their own views on what extraordinary really means."

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️   Michaela Clement-Hayes - MY STAGE IS THE WORLD

"Initially only creating work from the Shakespeare canon, Arrows & Traps have more recently been staging other classic adaptations, including Anna Karenina and now Dostoyevsky’s Crime & Punishment. Using Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’s text, director Ross McGregor has created an evocative piece of theatre, full of fantastic performances.

"Raskolnikov (Christopher Tester) an ex-law student, has committed a crime. He relives the events in his mind, through the help of the detective Porfiry (Stephen MacNeice) and a prostitute named Sonia (Christina Baston). By conjuring each person relating to the crime in his head, he is forced to search for redemption. As he pursues answers, more questions about his psychological state and religious outlook arise, unveiling what lead him to his criminality.

"The play puts emphasis on the language of the characters, so the text itself is an important focal point, relying on the actors to perform them well. Tester performs Raskolnikov with a brilliant balance of intelligence and conflict. The development of his character from a man obsessed with becoming extraordinary to his descent into madness is exquisite to watch. However, Baston stands out the most with her characterisation and ability to encompass each character she plays with ease and strength, giving a commendable performance.

"Karl Swinyard’s lighting coupled with the limited set and only three performers gives this a very intimate feel. McGegor’s choice in doing that allows the actors to focus on their characters, prioritising the storytelling element of the piece. The ensemble cleverly draws you into the small space, and you’re soon eager to find out more about the protagonist.

"Arrows & Traps have successfully created an engaging adaptation of Crime & Punishment where the performers have you hooked from beginning to end. There is never a dull moment, and with such a great text to work with, what appears on stage is a striking piece of theatre."


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