One of the most potent themes in Voyage is the personal versus the political. In the first half of the play, the audience sees the characters in a domestic setting interacting with each other. In the second act, they are depicted in a political and philosophical realm. Michael Bakunin is positioned at the center of these two forces. His desire to change the political and social landscape of Russia has a direct impact on the lives of his friends, parents, and sisters.
Another crucial theme is the idea of a Russian identity. In many ways, the entire Coast of Utopia trilogy hinges on this question, but in Voyage, it is filtered primarily through Michael Bakunin. His vacillations among the many theorists of the time are representative of Russia as a whole. Instead of trying to discover how he thinks, he follows the ideas of numerous philosophers—many of them non-Russian.
This notion of identity is also reflected in another key theme: indecision. Of the three plays, Voyage is the most static because its characters cannot decide which is the best path for them. Aside from his political waffling, Michael also has difficulty choosing between his paramour, Natalie Beyer, and his sisters. This is particularly evident in his relationship with Tatiana, which has uncomfortably romantic overtones. Varenka, who has become pregnant, cannot decide whether or not to remain with her husband, Dyakov. Liubov and Stankevich also struggle with their almost-romance. While Liubov breaks off her engagement, neither she nor Stankevich truly reveals their feelings.
Death also looms over the action of The Coast of Utopia: Voyage. Liubov’s health declines throughout the play, and she is dead by its end. The same fate befalls her not-quite-lover Stankevich, who falls ill and dies. Belinsky’s death is heavily foreshadowed in Voyage, and he is unwell by the play’s end. Least surprisingly, the Bakunin patriarch Alexander is blind and failing by the end of Voyage.
Yet death means far more than the corporeal demise of the characters; it is indicative of the larger death and rebirth of Russia. This is especially evident in the characters of Alexander and his wife, Varvara, who are generations older than the young upstarts who occupy the play’s primary focus. Never is the difference between the old and new Russia more evident than when Belinsky goes on an awkward political tirade in front of Alexander. The elder man’s defense of his feudal way of life indicates their differences. Varvara’s dealings with the servants (particularly her comic beating of them) also underscore this notion. Alexander and Varvara are the final bastions of a dying way of life.