This production is thought provoking and performed superblyEllie Kizs

"There are no limits", cries Alex King’s Stepan, his frustration and torment at a fellow comrade’s crisis in conscience a scene of captivating emotion that it is at times disturbing to watch. It is but a fragment of many instances in the production that force the audience to question the ideas and structures that frame our world, from justice to morality to love.

Nicholas Ashurst’s production is a temporal sweep of conflict and pathos, a moving depiction of Camus’ five revolutionaries, caught in the battle between their desire for justice through terrorist acts and their own suffocating humanity. The intimacy of the Corpus Playroom played a significant role in creating the necessary relationship between character and audience; each furrow of the brow, clench of the jaw, tearful apprehension of the eyes, made me feel like an intruder. The space was used to great effect, characters littered across the stage in their division and mental claustrophobia yet united in this one sphere, at times glaring at each other from afar, at others embracing passionately. The set nor costume design was true to Camus’ early 20th century Russian setting, yet instead of detracting from the piece, it held a peculiar relevance to today’s world of abject terrorism. The lighting, too, struck an incredible resonance; faces half-cast in darkness, shadows flitting across the stage, as if everything, from the actors to the set, was in a moral and human conflict.

It was the ensemble cast, however, that brought light to the darkness of Camus’ less renowned existentialist work. They moved seamlessly together, bouncing off each other’s dramatic energy to the point of complete naturalness. Ashurst’s direction allowed the cast at every moment the chance to exhibit their character, and they each did so with incredible focus. Matthew Bradley’s collected leader, Boris, falling to the floor in anguish and reproach at the thought of having lost the chance to deliver the revolutionary message; the breathless fatigue of a scarred Stepan (Alex King) reflecting upon love and hatred; director Nicholas Ashurst’s pernicious Skouratov, a Satan in a suit, tempting the imprisoned Yanek with freedom and life in exchange for renunciation of his ideology. He was strongly supported by Chloe Booyens’ convincing reminder of the human realm beyond the revolutionaries’ dogma as the assassinated Duke’s bereaved widow. Eloise Poulton as Alexis also captivated as the anxious escapee of the group, and Caspar Lathman gave a surprisingly Dickensian portrayal of Foka, although to a more symbolic effect.

It was Tom Taplin and Evie Butcher as Yanek and Dora respectively that pushed the play forward with instrumental performances. Taplin’s portrayal of the poetic, lively revolutionary was of a perfect pitch, undulating between buoyancy and nervousness. His shell-shocked, wounded speech after his character’s failure to throw a bomb at the Duke and his niece and nephew is incredibly distressing to behold; his breaking crescendo will echo in your mind long after the applause. With Yanek’s demise, however, came Evie Butcher’s rise; she traced with diligence the metamorphosis of her character from gentleness and softness to determined and dogmatic. It was the highlight of the production to witness the strength growing in Butcher’s presence and emotion, her eyes shimmering from weeping fragility to enflamed rebellion with each passing act.

Ashurst’s execution of Les Justes, then, is in conflict with its own source material; a well-moulded cast that are a divided corps, containing energetic performances of exhausted disillusionment. "There are no limits" when it comes to the merciless emotional pull and mental questioning that the performance places upon you from the moment it begins, and although a difficult play to stage in itself, Ashurst manages to elevate his production and give it the spark that it needs to ignite; it does justice to a play that does not know what justice is.