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Home > Drama and Theatre home > Archive > Productions > The Cosmonaut's last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union
More in this section 2011-12

The Cosmonaut's last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union

Playwright – David Greig

Director’s statement

The sporadic nature of The Cosmonaut’s scenes, its unnatural dialogue and unique imagery are what initially drew me to the play. I was particularly inspired by the challenge of jumping to various locations across the world from one scene to the next. Through the physical movement we allow the scenes to dance on top of one another, emphasising the feeling of a disjointed world. Here I saw a chance to juxtapose this movement with the abstract dialogue.

At a discussion at Royal Holloway the playwright, David Greig, explained that because of personal experience, characters living outside of their homeland is a trend that inspires his work. This is perhaps why I identified with the play; because I felt that it reflects my international upbringing, where, as an expat it is difficult to establish a sense of home. 

One of the challenges that surfaces when dealing with this sense of disorientation and dis-connectivity is finding ways to establish character. In this production we explore how the characters can find other ways of communicating with each other when language fails them. Using Anne Bogart’s ‘Viewpoints’ we applied a method of acting that does not give preference to language over movement, shape, gesture or time. 

We have also used multimedia to engulf the stage, show dual narratives and as a display for the actors to mirror throughout the performance. Finally, we have omitted the character of Oleg’s fellow Cosmonaut Casimir and placed this 40-minute piece within the mind of Oleg, the final Cosmonaut, whose memories and imaginations form the basis of this production.

Play Summary

The Cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former soviet union was written by Scottish playwright David Greig in 1999. The play follows 11 characters, across 42 short scenes, which are loosely connected in their search for fulfillment and peace in a world that has left them disconnected from significant human interaction. 

Two Soviet Cosmonauts, abandoned to orbit the earth alone; one Speech Therapist, in search of her missing husband; One Civil Servant, on the verge of a midlife crisis; Another who has everything and nothing; A Russian exotic dancer, who wants to be discovered in a film; A French UFO researcher, obsessed with a spaceship; A policewoman, who believes in talking things through are all brought together in a complex thread of connections. Through these characters we are shown a search for harmony within the intimate and epic.


  • Donna Bridgman – Vivienne & Sylvia
  • Liam Harrison – Keith & Bernard
  • Louise Parker – Nastasja
  • Josh Brown - Eric
  • Liliam Tsang - Oleg
  • Esme LeJeune – Claire & Patient


  • Director – Alex Murphy
  • DSM – Sarah Greenwood
  • Roseanna Mann – 3rd Year Designer (Set)
  • Florence Platford - 3rd Year Designer (Set)
  • Sam Luffman – 2nd Year Designer (Media)
  • Chloe Walton – 2nd Year Designer (Costume)
  • Rebekka Taylor – 1st Year Costume
  • Chloe Wilcox - 1st Year Costume
  • Alex Hiscocks - 1st Year Projection Designer
  • Camilla Potter – 1st Year Sound Designer

Date of performance: 25 May at 2.30pm and 8pm

Location: The Boilerhouse Theatre, Royal Holloway.

The Cosmonaut's last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union was part of the 2012 MA Director's Season at Royal Holloway's Department of Drama. This formed part of the MA in Theatre (Directing) course as the "Independent Practical Project" and saw our postgraduates team up with a crew of first year undergraduates who gained valuable experience of various roles in the organising and preparation of a performance.


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