I Killed Rasputin is a play by comedian Richard Herring, and it’s something of a revelation. While the play contains many funny moments – and let’s face it, the legend of Rasputin’s real-life demise is the stuff of farce – it has a serious side too. Herring has made no secret of his fascination with this infamous Russian figure, and through the course of the play I learned a great deal not only about Rasputin himself, but about his nemesis, Felix Yusupov.
The play is set in the sixties, when an exiled Yusupov is living in Paris with his wife. A young journalist is sent to interview him in order to find out the truth about Rasputin’s assassination. In an inspired piece of cross-gender casting, Nichola McAuliffe gives a marvellous performance as Yusupov, flamboyant and stately, alternately pleased and frustrated that he will always be remembered as “the man who killed Rasputin”. Eileen Nicholas is also very good as his wife, while Justin Edwards steals the show in his scenes as a towering, physically imposing Rasputin.
At the end we are left wondering if the world’s assessment of the “mad monk” is a fair one, as well as feeling pity for the person who killed him, who has never been able to lay the ghosts of the past to rest.