Ivan and the Dogs explores notion of feral children
Theatre piece based on true story of Ivan Mishukov
You wait 18 months for a play about feral children, then two come along at once. Not since NIE’s My Life with the Dogs in the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe have we heard the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a four-year old boy from Moscow who lived with a pack of dogs. But only last month, Edinburgh’s Magnetic North went on tour with Wild Life about a couple who imagine adopting such a child and now, London’s Soho Theatre and ATC are touring the Olivier-nominated Ivan and the Dogs, which is inspired by the same story as the NIE show.
‘It’s The Jungle Book gone wrong,’ says writer Hattie Naylor. ‘It has loads of elements that make it a fantastic story; you’ve got this extraordinary moment in history happening in the background and it is to do with our relationship with animals and what it’s like to be as one with them.’
Performed by acclaimed Polish actor Rad Kaim, the play explores not only what it must be like to run wild, but also what this true story tells us about the changing state of the former Soviet Union. Few details are known about Mishukov but he was almost certainly the son of alcoholic and poverty stricken parents. ‘It works as a microcosm of the collapse of the Soviet Union,’ she says. ‘The dogs are a Soviet pack that are completely crushed by the capitalist forces as that society changes. Normally people leave sobbing because it is an incredibly moving story, particularly his separation from the dogs.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Thu 21–Sat 23 Apr