It's not just the way the actors mill about, putting on bits of costume or plucking at the array of musical instruments that line the back wall before coming to order with a powerful rendition of a Russian orthodox Psalm. It's more to do with the way Adam Best's bald-pated Raskolnikov addresses the audience from the off, laying bare his poverty-stricken intentions of murdering a greedy pawn-broker as some kind of act of rebellion. When Raskolnikov declaims, the ensemble become witness, conscience and confessor as much as the voices of the very private revolution in his head.
Chris Hannan's vivid adaptation for this co-production between the Citizens, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh may put Raskolnikov's personal torment to the fore, but he also recognises the story is a mainstream psychological thriller and detective yarn as much as an existential quest for redemption. This comes through George Costigan's portrayal of tenacious cop Petrovich, who at times resembles a Russian gentleman Columbo.
Hill's staging is magnificently fluid, aided as he is by Colin Richmond's design, Chris Davey's lighting, Lucien MacDougall and Benedicte Seierup's movement and, especially, the dissonant junkyard chorales of Nikola Kodjabashia's score. The depth, dimensions and light and shade of the stage pictures during the ensemble scenes resemble Orthodox religious paintings, and when Raskolnikov finally lets love in via Jessica Hardwick's hopele ssly devoted Sonya, it's the most painful of enlightenments in a fearlessly rich production.