Death and the Penguin
by Andrei Kurkov

Andrei Kurkov - Death and the Penguin

BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 29th October 2006 @ 8:15 p.m.

Surviving in the Ukraine these days is existentially challenging in all sorts of surprising ways. "Death and the Penguin" is a satire set in the Ukraine in the years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This dark, deadpan thriller chronicles the journalistic career of Viktor, an obituary writer, who shares a flat with Misha, his depressed Penguin, rescued from the under-funded zoo in Kiev.

Misha, one of the most emotive mute characters ever, jangles a bell around his neck to communicate feelings on a scale from bleak to euphoric. So often viewed as a comic creature, he somehow, and rather alarmingly, became a symbol of the human condition.

Viktor, whilst aiming to write novels, gets a job writing obelisks, obituaries, for a prominent city paper about notable figures in the community. He quickly transforms himself from struggling writer to wealthy journalist but it soon becomes apparent that there is a more sinister motive at play. Viktor now finds himself descending in a Kafkaesque realm of suspicion and unease as he is dragged deeper and deeper into a world of Mafia run organised-crime.

Translated by George Bird and adapted for radio by Matt Thompson from Andrei Kurkov's 1996 novel, "Death and the Penguin". The play was largely recorded on location in Kiev.

With Paul Ewing [Viktor Alekseyevich Zolotaryov], James Bryce [Igor], Jimmy Harrison [Sergey], Stewart Potter [Misha Non-Penguin], Katrina Bryan [Nina], Kate Bennett [Sonya], John McKie [Pidpaly], Andrei Kurkov [Lyosha], and others.

Music and effects by Joe Acheson.

Directed by Matt Thompson

90 min.


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