what our audiences said:
by Ukrainian playwright Mykola Kulish, translated into English for the first time by Maria Montague
Maklena tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who fixates on a fairy-tale vision of the Soviet Union. Communist propaganda, magical geese and her family's bleak reality become blurred in her imagination, and Maklena’s dream of joining the revolution takes her down a dangerous path.
Following the premiere of Maklena as an abridged version at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, we developed the production into a full-length piece and held a UK tour in July 2018, funded by Arts Council England. We are now excited to stage Maklena again in 2019.
“Captivating, heart-wrenching and genuinely funny.”
- ★★★★★ Theatre Bubble
“Startlingly well directed, with performances of fierce commitment and great clarity”
- Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe 2006-2016
“One of the rare occasions where you see West End quality on the fringe, just ready to burst out onto bigger and better” things.”
- The Prickle
Photos from the 2018 Summer Tour or MAKLENA
Photographer: Tobias Baldauf
For 13-year-old Maklena, the Soviet Union is the best fairy tale yet. Her family faces dire poverty in 1930s Poland, and Maklena dreams of a better life across the border in the USSR. She fixates on communist propaganda and longs to join the revolutionaries.
Her landlord, Zbrozhek, has a different ambition: to buy the local factory and see his name in golden letters. But when the banks crash, both characters descend into a dangerous fantasy world. Their dreams come under threat and communist and capitalist ideals are taken to the extreme.
Maklena Grasa was the final major work by Mykola Kulish before his execution by the Soviet authorities. In September 1933, the play was performed at gunpoint before a crowd of secret service agents and the Politburo of Soviet Ukraine. Maklena was subsequently banned; Kulish was later declared a ‘bourgeois-nationalist' playwright and sent to a forced labour camp before being executed in 1937.
Watch our artistic director, Maria Montague, present the 2018 production of Maklena.
(Video produced by Nicola Roper)
The play is steeped in history, yet our production underscores its contemporary relevance. One of the reviewers of our 2017 production wrote that Maklena is ‘no less relevant today than it was in 1930s Ukraine’. Such questions as the place of ideology in society, what we should believe in, and when ideology becomes dangerous remain poignant in present-day politics worldwide.
Night Train is extremely proud to present Maria Montague’s translation of Maklena and bring this play to life for the first time in English. Maria translated Maklena whilst studying for her Master’s in Ukrainian Studies at Cambridge University. She worked closely with Marta Jenkala (Senior Teaching Fellow in Ukrainian at Cambridge and UCL) on the translation, and Marta has been at the heart of this project from the very beginning!
We are now looking to publish the English translation of Maklena, and we are excited for more people to discover Kulish’s masterpiece in English.
praise for the translation
‘Every line of [Maria Montague’s] stunning translation exudes poetry. The script feels classic, yet in many ways it is no less relevant today than it was in 1930s Ukraine.’ Kate Plummer, EdFringe Review
‘The translation has produced a lively script that flows easily, peppered with occasional verbatim Ukrainian idioms.’ Kate Saffin, Fringe Review