Circus Train



Margarita Sharapova's tale, based on working in a Russian circus, is adapted by Louis Nowra.

While their train is waiting at a remote rural station, animal trainer Orest and his assistant Alex take the dog out to relieve herself and their long circus train leaves without them. With no papers or money and not knowing where they are, they embark on a madcap journey, hopping goods trains and hiding away in carriages. Some are full of contraband, others have stowaways and one clattering goods train is carrying mysterious chemicals. Alex and Orest encounter a host of eccentric characters who are finding new and often desperate ways to survive.

As they manically switch trains to try to rejoin the circus, they explore the hinterland of Russia. Life here has changed since communism and yet in many ways is also much the same. A farm is still very much a co-operative even though the spokeswoman talks about the new economy and there is a picture of President Obama on the wall. The drab and ugly towns Orest and Alex pass through rejoice in fictive names like Yellow Rat Town - this is a heightened picaresque tale where imagination vies with grim reality.

Drunken soldiers, village policemen and a succession of chicken farmers harass and pursue the circus couple, convinced they are criminals on the run.

Recorded by a Russian-speaking repertory cast.

Orest Anderlect... Yasen Peyankov

Alex/Alyona... Anne Bobby

Nastya... Angelique Doudnikova

Berg... Michael Levi Harris

Gorlogryzov... Stass Klassen

Bruskov... Moti Margolin

Hayk... Peter Von Berg

Train Dispatcher... Tatyana Zbirovskaya

All other parts were played by members of the cast.

Music composed by Gene Pritsker.

Sound design by Peregrine Andrews.

Producer: Judith Kampfner

A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.