| go to index of reviews | go to entry page | | go to other departments |


Lucy Komisar

“Russian Troll Farm” uses proven lies to promote Russophobic propaganda

“Russian Troll Farm.”
Written by Sarah Gancher, directed by Darko Tresniak.
Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street, NYC.
https://vineyardtheatre.org/shows/russian-troll-farm/ Runtime 1hr40min.
Opened Feb 8, 2024.
Reviewed by Lucy Komisar Feb 22, 2024.
Closes March 1, 2024.

If I was writing this review as a drama, where I could make things up, I would say “Congratulations to the Deep State (aka CIA & Co), which has moved from propaganda films into propaganda theater. However, Langley guys, you need some theatrical help. Your “Russian Troll Farm” at the Vineyard is the most crude, amateurish, nasty piece of pseudo-theatrical claptrap I have seen reviewing theater since 1998 when I became a member of the Drama Desk.

And the first part of the review doesn’t even come from me, it’s from investigative journalists and a court judge who show that its story premise is fake fake fake. Sarah Gancher, who takes credit for this trash, is either not the brightest bulb or a witting intel operative.

I can’t claim the CIA link with evidence, but it’s credible. The story is that the Russian government set up something called the Internet Research Agency in the spring of 2016 to use their dastardly online skills to turn the U.S. election from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. They would do this by posting fake tweets on Twitter and bogus commentary on Facebook. The play has four “posters” sitting at computers and bragging about how many fake tweets they have sent. In between, two of them have a brief loveless sexual interaction, one pulls up a t-shirt to reveal an ultra-fat stomach, and they vacuously betray one another. There’s also a boss with a dark past. But, hey, they are Russians.

Haskell King as Egor, John Lavelle as Steve, Christine Lahti as Ljuba, Renata Friedman as Masha and Hadi Tabbal as Nikolai, photo Carol Rosegg.

Back to the IRA. Part of “Russiagate,” the collection of anti-Trump plots orchestrated by Hillary Clinton and acolytes, was that a company in St. Petersburg had set up a system to post fake tweets to turn the election. When that canard was investigated by former NYTimes investigative journalist Jeff Gerth, among others, it was found (as published by the Columbia Journalism Review) to be fake. Egregiously fake. He reported that:

The Mueller report’s implication that the IRA was part of a “sweeping” Russian government meddling campaign in 2016 was later rebuked by a federal Judge handling an IRA-related case. The indictment of the IRA, the judge found, alleged “only private conduct by private actors” and “does not link the [IRA] to the Russian government.”

As for the extent of the troll farm’s activity, Mueller’s report cites a review by Twitter of tweets from accounts “associated with the IRA,” in the ten weeks before the 2016 election, which found that “approximately 8.4%” were “election related.” More than half of the impressions associated with the IRA’s Facebook ads came after the election.

Facebook submissions to Congress called the IRA’s targeting “relatively rudimentary,” with only a small fraction having anything to do with the election or speci?c geographic targets.

text about court filings

All the evidence is that this was a click-bait group that collected money from advertisers whose links were clicked by viewers. It’s an operation done around the world. Everybody knows about it except maybe Sarah Gancher.

The actual play is worse than I expected. Among the play’s IRA hackers:

Nikolai (Hadi Tabbal) declares, “We’re here saving the world.” He wants to exploit the racial divide, as if that weren’t being done by both sides in American politics. Would someone in the real dastardly IRA say that?

Egor (Haskell King) turns out to be pro-black as he learned about civil rights in a Soviet school. Well, that’s more than Floridians do. Would someone in the real dastardly IRA say that?

Hadi Tabbal as Nikolai and Renata Friedman as Masha, photo Carol Rosegg.

The rest of the characters have lesser motivations. Fat Steve (John Lavelle) bounces up and down on a chair. Is there a reason that he is grossly fat and the women are match-stick skinny? He will hit on Masha.

Masha (Renata Friedman), an unhappy person for no clear reason (boredom?), has a brief loveless sex encounter with Nikolai.

Ljuba (Christine Lahti), the gal in charge, declares I love Stalin. At the right moment Putin’s photo flashes. Hey, Langley, that is not subtle.

The actors perform as cartoon characters, but I can’t blame them considering the dialogue they have. Director Darko Tresniak doesn’t help. By the way, it is billed as a comedy, “Russian Troll Farm: a Workplace Comedy.” Nothing is funny! Do you count two guys with their pants down sitting on adjoining toilets? Yech!

Let’s drop the dumb script and get back to the propaganda, which is the reason for the play.

Christine Lahti as Ljuba, photo Carol Rosegg.

So here are some of the terrible tweets.

STEVE [TEXAS LONE STAR] Obama called me clinger. Hillary calls me deplorable. Terrorists call me infidel. Trump calls me American. Great shirt!

EGOR [blackantifa] Cops called elderly Black man the n-word before shooting him to death #KillerCops #BlackLivesMatter.

They will move an election.

Then there’s the DNC (Democratic National Committee) emails. Remember that the DNC/Podesta emails were obtained by some obviously nefarious character and proved that the DNC was screwing Bernie Sanders, sending money to Hillary that should have supported the party, etc. More a patriot than nefarious in my view.

IRA knows about this in advance, no explanation how. Ljuba says “Someone upstairs pulled the emergency cord. Trump’s numbers are tanking so we’re pulling out the big guns. Wikileaks is about to dump a BIG new bunch of DNC emails. We’ve got some tweets pre-written, look on your slack channel, load em up and send. …Someone upstairs likes #tunnelkids. They want you to draw connections between tunnelkids and these emails.”

Ljuba: “Our theme is crooked Hillary. The DNC rigged the primaries for Hillary, etc etc. It’s all building to the Democratic convention, that’s the dramaturgiya. So get to work!”

The tweets: Obama called me clinger, Hillary called me deplorable, Haskell King as Egor, John Lavelle as Steve, Renata Friedman as Masha and Hadi Tabbal as Nikolai, photo Carol Rosegg.

The DNC rigged primaries is ALL TRUE. This is presented as a dastardly Russian promotion. Except everybody knows it is true! The Podesta emails proved it is true. It didn’t take any Russians to pump up the story.

EGOR [StayWoke88] If you out here screaming Black Lives Matter, and you voting for Hillary, you are a joke #killary #superpredator

Well, that’s a novel idea! (Joke) Untold thousands were tweeting the same.

Then Gancher attacks Julian Assange. STEVE [@moranrisin] Assange: WikiLeaks did not receive Clinton emails from Russian govt / 

ASSANGE IS RIGHT. Who is paying Gancher to put down Assange?

AND EGOR [User #cfb0d237]: @RTcom: #Assange busts ‘Russian spy’ myth in exclusive / interview .

PHOTO lk24022f Scene from "Collateral Damage" video.

Scene from "Collateral Damage" video.

YES IT WAS A RUSSIAN SPY MYTH. But Gancher appears to be writing for the Deep State. Ironic, as I saw the play the day the Assange team was arguing in London against his extradition on the horrific charge of revealing U.S. war crimes. Sarah, have you seen the WikiLeaks U.S. helicopter kill video?

Back to Ljuba, who is supposed to be 71, but seems about 50. (Good actors and makeup artists can make players appear the age of the script.)

Her memory is that the KGB asked her to 1. Report her parents as traitors, which she did, 2. out lesbians at school. The first goes back to the Doctors’ Plot of Stalin’s days. Is this now relevant? Was lesbianism an issue in Russia 50 years ago? But hey let’s throw it in, too. Anything else you can say nasty about the Russians? She trains to be a KGB propaganda officer.

Then the real underlying plot reappears. Hillary in a projected video attacks aggression by Russia in Syria. Truth is Washington’s Islamic terrorist proxies attacked Syria, and the U.S. is still there, illegally, with a base to protect its stealing Syrian oil.

The Drama Desk needs a new category called “Propaganda.” Gancher would win hands down.


Visit Lucy’s website http://thekomisarscoop.com/


| home | reviews | cue-to-cue | discounts | welcome |
| museums | NYTW mail | recordings | coupons | publications | classified |