Stray Dogs in Finsbury Park tells the story of an extraordinary 20th century woman

The world premiere of a new play is coming to Finsbury Park.

Stray Dogs by Olivia Olsen will be performed at Park Theatre from Friday, November 15, to Saturday, December 7,

Anna Akhmatova, the most celebrated poet of her generation, has lost her first husband to the purges and her son to state prison. Now, Stalin, the tyrant responsible for the murder of everyone close to her, wants a favour.

Anna is offered a renewal of life when philosopher Isaiah Berlin risks the hazards behind the iron curtain to find her. But in a world where poetry is a force that can control for good or ill, where will her loyalty lead her? How far will she go to save a life? How far will she go to save herself?

Based on true events, Stray Dogs depicts the story of an extraordinary women of the 20th century, as she must choose between her duty to her son, her country, her art and herself. This urgent and relevant play explores the nature of tyranny and how it affects both the political landscape of the past and the present.

Olivia Olsen said: “Stray Dogs is a homage to Anna Akhmatova, a poet laureate living during Stalin’s great purges, an homage to all voices that have been and are gagged. Poetry is beyond politics, beyond advertising, entertainment and beyond information, necessary and dangerous.

“Stalin knew this. He knew literature was a weapon and needed Akhmatova’s fame and genius to fill a void. I wrote the play to find out how Akhmatova, whose poetry was born in the Stray Dog Cabaret in St Petersburg, answered.”

Olivia Olsen is the writer and plays Anna Akhmatova. Her writing credits include Penelope the Odyssey Through Her Eyes, Parizal and Dear Elephant.

Joining her are Ben Porter as Isaiah Berlin and Ian Redford as Joseph Stalin.

The cast are directed by Robin Herford, whose credits include The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre and Twelfth Night.

Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP, Friday, November 15, to Saturday, December 7, various times. Details: 020 7870 6876 parktheatre.co.uk

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