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Theatre Review

What`s On
Marina Lukanina

The Sovremennik Theatre

I was in two minds whether or not to write review this play. I am usually not in favour of writing about something that provokes unpleasant emotions which unfortunately was the case with this performance. At the same time I can’t help expressing my attitude towards this “work of art” as there were several aspects in this performance that I find totally unacceptable to see on the stage of such a reputable and well-known theatre.

Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion of what a theatre is. For me a theatre has strong associations with education, it’s a place that teaches you values, that gives you a chance to contemplate eternal human issues. I do not think it is appropriate to make a “drunken brawl” of the theatre. This is exactly how I felt seeing this play.

“Anarchy” is based on a modern English play by Mike Packer called “Dysfunctionals.” According to the theatre’s press release, this play had a huge success in London at the Bush Theatre. There are plans to stage it at one of London’s West End Theatres.

Garik Sukachev, the Russian rock musician, directed this play and re-named it “Anarchy.” The play tells us a story about an old punk group that decides to make a comeback after 25 years. The group was invited to perform a concert in the United States, however, in order to be accepted by the American producers the musicians had to follow certain rules. I guess it is possible to say that deep down the play is supposed to show us contemplations about the price of compromise—not only in art but in life.

Mikhail Yefremov, the son of the very famous theatre actor and director Oleg Yefremov who, among other things, was the founder of the Sovremennik plays the leading role. It was not a surprise for me that Mikhail Efremov was invited to play in such a performance. His hero’s personality reflects well the personality of an actor.

Throughout the entire play the usage of swear words is excessive and embarrassing. Every single sentence had one or another offensive expression that is clearly not part of normal speech. I felt bad for older people and teenagers who were in the audience but also for such people as me who did not expect to see something like that at this theatre.

Another thing that surprised me was the extremely inappropriate treatment of a national symbol. Yefremov’s hero was running around the stage using the US flag as a poncho, making outrageous comments about US politics and what was even more shocking, such sad events in the US history as September 11th.

March 12, 13,14,29,30
The Sovremennik Theater
19A  Chistoprudnyi blvd,

In general this was a very disrespectful performance. I was also stunned by some of the reactions from the audience; some people seemed to support the vandalism of national symbols and the disrespectful attitude towards a country’s tragedy (9/11) by applauding at certain moments of a play.

So if you are up for a scandalous play that fosters antagonism among nations you might want to try seeing this. If you are an avid fan of a Sovremennik Theatre and such plays as “Three Sisters”, “Pygmalion”, “Five Evenings” you are better off not going to see this!

Miss Julie
The Theatre of Nations

This was my first trip to the Theatre of Nations. I have heard a lot about this venue and its artistic director Yevgeny Mironov but never manage to see anything there.

This theatre was founded in 1987 under the name of Theatre of Friendship. In 1991 it was renamed into the State Theatre of Nations.

The Theatre of Nations is a major play producer. Its playbill includes a wide variety of genres and a host of famous directors. Today its repertoire features such works as Chekhov’s Swedish Match staged by Nikita Grishpun; Letters to Felicia (based on Kafka’s letters) by Kirill Sbitnev; The Desolate West and Shosha by a graduate of the Russian Theatre Academy Tufan Imamutdinov. These are run side by side with productions by world-famous theatre practitioners: Shukshin’s Stories staged by one of the leading European directors Alvis Hermanis (Latvia); the choreographic novella Poor Lisa to the music of Leonid Desyatnikov’s chamber opera translated into the language of dance by renowned Russian choreographer and ballerina Alla Sigalova; Gronholm Method by Jordi Galceran, Killer Joe by Tracy Letts staged by Bulgarian director Javor Gardev and Caligula by world-famous director Eimuntas Nekrosius.

My first acquaintance with the theatre began with “Miss Julie,” a play starring Evgeny Mironov and Chulpan Khamatova (an actress from the Sovremennik Theater).

The main character of this play, written by famous Swedish playwright August Strindberg in 1888 became a kind of symbol of the “new type” heroine. In the late 19th century the story of the “moral lapse” of a count’s daughter who for one night became the lover of her father’s driver was perceived as too realistic. In Sweden “Miss Julie” was censored until 1906. Today it is one of the Swedish playwright’s most popular and most frequently staged works.

It is not the first time that well-known German director Thomas Ostermeier has attempted to look into the psychology of this type of personage. Seven years ago, Russian audiences had the opportunity to see Ostermeier’s production of Nora in which the title heroine abandons her “doll house” after shooting her husband. The production became a major event for Russian theatre-goers and one of the highlights of the NET Festival in Moscow at which it was shown.

The Theatre of Nations 3,
Petrovsky Lane
check the repertoire

The action of the play is set in contemporary Russia. All the main story lines are preserved while the dialogues have been rewritten in modern language. The entire play is focused on the eternal triangle-Miss Julie, servant Jean and maid Christina. The acting of all three actors is superb.

This performance is definitely not easy Friday evening theatre going stuff, and not something that you would probably want to see twice but worth seeing nonetheless.

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