Review- Lady Death: Story Of A Female Sniper- KrisP. Productions



By Dakota Duclo 


Three and a half stars

​There is much to be unpacked in KrisP. Production’s latest play Lady Death, written and produced by the Russian native Kristina Pakhomova. As the production is still making it’s run, and of course in the interest of not spoiling the fun, we’ll stick to the knee jerk reactions and standard analysis. One thing is for certain: This isn’t something you see every day. 


This is not exactly a ‘fictional’ tale. Though the idea may seem farfetched depending on who’s having the conversation, Lady Death is a story that is based on an actual sniper from the Soviet Union whom of which they called ‘Lady Death’. With a confirmed kill count of 309, Russian sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko has even higher exploits it seems than legendary U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle. Considering the context of now, and then, a female sniper or even just a female in the military wasn’t all that common particularly in WWII. Though still, as her ranking officer would say, “no mercy, as the Germans will show you none”. The Nazis certainly did not exclude women from harm, as their genocide did not discriminate genders, race, or creed. That said, bravo to the Soviet Union for spawning one of history’s greatest soldiers.


This production outlines her story from entering the military, her time in training, adversity faced, her kills, romance, and ultimately her decoration for her services to WWII which landed her a trip to the United States and ultimately to the White House (no small feat). 


The word for the play is ‘interesting’. Think Divergent meets Unbroken meets 42 meets A League of Their Own. Struggle, discrimination, adversity, and even romance are at the centre of its telling, so it’s safe to say this show has a bit of everything. Though it is in part realism, it is also heavily stylized. This would include scenes that parody contemporary themes, overzealous dream sequences, and even a section for dance that would only parallel the difficulties of men trying their hand at things women seem to do with ease that otherwise crumble the average man who decides to undertake them. In other words- “sure, women can’t often fight in a war, but men cannot often practice ballet”.


The irony of how both ideas are perceived in the modern-day world is what makes for an interesting watch. Now midway through the play, one starts to wonder if whether it’s turning into an overly feminist pandering of “women can do everything a man can do” which is not a new phenomenon, and something that public audiences have now seen far too many times before. Though it is however pleasing to relay, this is not the case here. 



​Of the “goods and bads”, they are few and far in between, and though some things could have been improved upon they do not take away from the production in its entirety. The music, which was appropriate for the stylistic nature of the play, was effective although sometimes too loud and overbearing as the actors often had lines to say during that time. When the audience can’t hear what’s being said, however relevant or irrelevant, it makes people wonder if they’ve missed something. The set was fair, but not consisting of much, and the props were minimal and provoked the audience to work in suspending their disbelief. In both regards for this production, however, perhaps less is more. The lighting was well suited and it coincided in conjunction with the sound cues, although sometimes it was a bit much. The actors did not miss the mark, but they did not always bowl a perfect strike. Everyone had their “moment” yet so much more could’ve been done. It seemed as though some of our cast was not always emotionally invested in this, and it often felt forced at certain points and yet emotionally restraining in others. In an intimate setting such as the McAulay Studio this is something that simply cannot be afforded because when your stage is close to your audience, every moment counts and no mistake is missed.


Of the individual efforts, praise has to be given to the most consistent of the bunch, which would be Jan Brink, portraying that of the ranking officer. His unfailing engagement with everything around him and his character’s tenacity can only be described as unique, unfaltering, and professional. His actions were driven by an iron motivation that appeared to have no cracks. Phillip Smith also had anomalous moments of vulnerability, and his character development was sound. Though it showed as though he could sometimes find himself giving TOO much to his cast without RECEIVING much in return. This can be a danger for any actor, as no one wants to relay inaccurate delivery to anyone who did not seem to provide them with equal energy. It creates imbalance and incongruence.


Of the blocking; well this is frequently debated as to who gets to shoulder the blame and/or garnish the acclaim. If it’s the director, then it can’t be dismissed or ignored, being that the direction of this piece did, unfortunately, espouse inexperience and seldom displayed aptitude. However to be fair a play such as this doesn’t come with a disclaimer that says “easy” on it, so one works with what they can. All of the above mentioned can be fixed, and thankfully fixed overnight. Ultimately, and with excluding the negatives, this play is a success in its full form. 


​The story itself was so worth telling. If plays like this weren’t staged we may have all been deprived of a historical truth that really lends credence to never judge a book by its cover, more specifically in this case, its gender. Though the plot structure is at times questionable, the dialogue was exceptional. It had beats, laughs, wit, charm, and empathy. The closing consensus here is to see the play before its run concludes.


There’s no doubt Lady Death was written by someone seemingly well-seasoned and for that our playwright gets all of the admiration.


Fore more information about this show click here. 


Kristina Pakhomova is currently creative director of KrisP Productions, a Hong Kong Theatre Company that actively collaborates with playwrights and actors around the world and often conducts workshops for adults to further explore their creativity or interests in acting. Visit KrisP's website at


Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 2.0