• @ St. James Theatre
  • 9 October 2015

Aloff Theatre

Diverse, Innovative, Vibrant

Aloff is a theatre company dedicated to the promotion of new and classic works. Founded in 2010, by producer Sanan Aliyev, to produce and tour English-language productions of plays from the established and emerging independent repertoires of Azerbaijan. This has also created a platform to produce plays and adaptations of classical narratives and genres from other countries in the Former Soviet Union and Central Asia.

Based in London, Aloff promotes the interchange of dramatic resources between Azerbaijan and the UK, and the opportunity to discover a fabulous tradition of theatre-making. A key part of Aloff’s ethos is exploring the possibilities of different genres for staging works, including musicals and site-specific concepts, actively bringing together creatives and performers from all around the world.



The world première of MIDNIGHT a haunting new musical thriller that matches a darkly witty psychological drama with a heart-breakingly beautiful score…

As the clock ticks towards midnight on New Year’s Eve, a husband and wife talk nervously about what the future holds for them and their fellow citizens.

Welcome to Azerbaijan, part of the police state of the Soviet Union in the dying minutes of 1937. The past year has been the worst of the Great Terror, in which the paranoid dictator Joseph Stalin unleashed wave upon wave of arrests. Millions have been tortured and executed. Informants and spies are everywhere. No one knows who to trust.

And then comes the dreaded knock on the door. Is it the NKVD, the state’s ruthless secret police? Or a far more mysterious – and terrifying – visitor? Dark secrets emerge, time is suspended and the husband and wife are tested to breaking point – and beyond…

Directed by Matthew Gould, this three hander – with an actor-musician ensemble – is based on an original play, “Citizens of Hell” by the great Azerbaijani writer Elchin. In adapting Elchin’s parable, Timothy Knapman and Laurence Mark Wythe have created a shatteringly unforgettable musical.


Great Terror

Stalinist Terror - Facts and Figures

According to the declassified Soviet archives, during 1937 and 1938, the NKVD detained 1,548,366 persons - an average of

Minutes court

Execution a day

Shot dead

Sentences were imposed in absentia, i.e. without calling the defendant, and without the participation of either a defense lawyer or prosecutor, and the sentences were not subject to appeal.

The Great Terror took place in the Soviet Union over the years 1936 to 1938 when the ruling Communist Party ruthlessly purged the country of ‘disloyal elements’, imprisoning, exiling or killing millions of its citizens – 400,000 were expelled from the Party and one million souls alone are thought to have perished.

Set against the backdrop of the chaos caused by the aftermath of the Civil War, the disastrous collectivisation of the farms, fear of war with Germany, and divisions within the Party itself, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered a purge of everything he saw as a threat to the nation. Politicians, officials, intellectuals, teachers, soldiers, writers, poets, actors, musicians, even kulaks, tradesmen and lowly peasants… no one was safe from being denounced and taken away to an unknown fate.

Under constant surveillance by the feared NKVD secret police, forerunner of the KGB, co-workers, neighbours and even families informed on each other, desperately hoping it would not be them next. Everyone feared that midnight knock on their door, denounced anonymously on false charges. Show trials based on confessions extracted after torture resulted in executions or banishment to the gulags where many of the unfortunate victims languished until they died. Many were secretly executed in prison, their bodies buried in mass graves.

Like the other republics of the Soviet Union, the people of Azerbaijan were not spared any of Stalin’s Terror. Indeed, for a tight-knit society with a comparatively small population, the evil of the Terror Years was catastrophic and with far-reaching consequences for every one of its citizens. Over the course of 1937 in Azerbaijan 22 People’s Commissars, 49 secretaries of district committees, 29 chairmen of district executive committees, 57 directors of factories and industries, 95 engineers, 110 soldiers, 207 council and trade unionists, and 8 professors were arrested. Almost all of them were shot. As a result, for political crimes in 1937 only, by the decisions of the Troika, 2,792 people were sentenced to death and 4,435 people to long terms of imprisonment.

Creative Team




“Midnight is a great show. I love a good crime drama and this has all the twists and turns you could expect”
by West End Wilma
11 October 2015

Musical Theatre Review

“This is an exciting and edgy musical from a company building a great track record for creating vibrant adaptations of classic world texts…”
by Aura Simon
13 October 2015

There Ought To Be Clowns

“Balancing out this almost demonic darkness is a wickedly dastardly sense of humour and an enigmatically fantastical edge which Gould’s direction manages to toy with even in this workshop setting.”
by Ian Foster
09 October 2015

BBC Azerbaijan

by Vusal Hamzayev
10 October 2015

SPUTNIK Azerbaijan

by Sputnik.Az
16 October 2015

Keep in Touch

St. James Theatre

12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA

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