Patriots: A Play Exploring Russian Politics and Power Dynamics


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“In the West you have no idea.” So begins Peter Morgan’s play “Patriots,” which opened on Monday at the Ethel Barrymore Theater. The line is spoken by the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, setting the stage for a tale that delves into the intricate world of Russian politics and power dynamics.

Plot Summary

“Patriots” aims to shed light on the complexities of realpolitik in post-Soviet Russia during the 1990s, a time when casino capitalism flourished and Vladimir Putin rose to prominence. The play explores the relationship between Berezovsky and Putin, portraying Berezovsky as the puppet master who helped install Putin in positions of authority.

Berezovsky, portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg, is depicted as a manipulative figure who sees himself as Putin’s protector or “krysha.” The dynamic between Berezovsky and Putin unfolds in a twisted narrative of power play and deception, with both characters vying for control and influence.

Will Keen delivers a compelling performance as Putin, showcasing the character’s duplicity and cunning nature. The play delves into the blurred lines between truth and lies, masterfully weaving a narrative that challenges perceptions of political power and manipulation.

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