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Theatre Review

Marina Lukanina

Happy New Year! (S Nastypayushim!)
The Sovremennik Theatre

Last season the Sovremennik Theatre offered a nice surprise to its audience—a holiday performance with two megastars— the show man Leonid Yarmolnik and one of the leading actors of the Sovremennik Theatre, Sergey Garmash. That tooks place on December 31st, but the run continues. Since there is a huge interest in this performance, you might have to really hunt for tickets. Your best bet is just to go directly to the theatre’s boxoffice as there is a ticket pre-sale every Saturday.

The story in brief: a successful TV host and producer (played by Leonid Yarmolnik) returns home on New Year’s Eve and finds out that his wife left him, taking their child. He takes the holiday table out to the landing and plans to celebrate New Year there. Suddenly Santa Claus appears (played by Sergey Garmash) from one of the elevators. Santa Claus turns to be his university fellow student. For the next couple of hours we are witnesses to a witty dialogue between two actors,

January 10, 14, 31
The Sovremennik Theater
19A Chistoprudny Boulevar
Tel: +7 (495) 628 – 7749 

costudents, when they discuss and raise all possible issues. The dialogue is between two very different people—one a TV star and the other just one of many actors with no name who has to work extra hours as a Santa Claus to make ends meet.

This is a very warm performance, one that puts you in a good mood yet leaves you with food for thought. It is not often that a play is both entertaining and wise, and has outstanding acting and superb set design.

The Seagull
The Tabakov’s Theater

I am writing this play not without pleasure; however, I am brutally lying about the conditions. It is a comedy with three female roles and six male ones, four acts, a landscape (the lake view); lots of talk about literature, not much action and five poods (5 x 16 kilograms) of love.”

This is a quote from Anton Chekhov’s letter to a friend when he started writing The Seagull—one of the most important plays to influence the world of drama.

The opening night of The Seagull at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg was a fiasco. Only two years later the Moscow Art Theatre, founded by Stanislavsky and Nemirovich- Danchenko, was able to stage it more or less how Chekhov thought it should have been staged. Since then the interest in Chekhov’s plays has remained strong. Directors worldwide and of course in Russia offer their own interpretation of Chekhov’s tragedies—which he always called comedies.

The Seagull is definitely my favourite Chekov play. I know the story by heart and I always envy people in the audience who react with surprise at the end hearing the sound of a shot, sometimes whispering “Oh my God! He [Treplev, the main character] actually killed himself.”

One of the latest stagings of The Seagull happened at the Tabakov Theatre under Konstantin Bogomolov’s direction. He claims that his production depicts the conflict between “capital city” and “province” and is about “success” and “failure”.

This is an interesting yet too-modern version of Chekhov’s play for me. I might sound conservative but I prefer a classic interpretation of such works. It feels that whenever the director adds some modern attributes to the play or—which is even worse—transfers the action into the present day, that he has nothing new to say. Classical literature is called “classical”

January 29, 30
Tabakov’s Theatre
1A Chaplygina Str.
Tel: +7 (495) 628–96–85

because the issues and problems it raises are eternal and common for any date in time; whether it be the 1oth century BC or the century we are living in now.

This production is worth seeing if you are into the avantgarde style of directing and are a big fan of the main Tabakov actors, Marina Zudina (whose talent is questionable), Oleg Tabakov who is always a star and Konstantin Khabenski (who belongs to the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre troupe).

The Extraordinary adventures of T.S. and H.F. by Mark Twain
The Moscow Young Generation Theater (MTYuZ)

It is a common trick for this theatre to give somewhat “mysterious” titles to their performances. For example, there is one called “K.I. from the ‘Crime’” that hints about Ivanovna, one of the heroes of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”.

As we can see, this performance is based on his book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and its sequel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

Henrietta Yanovskaya, the theatre’s current director, composed this play a long time ago, back when she and her husband, Kama Ginkas, a famous theatre director, were still students at the Leningrad Theatre School. She allowed this play to be staged by students of the School-Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre and of the Russian Academy of Arts. Her name is mentioned in the performance programme as the “artistic director of the production”.

Yanovskaya is one of the few directors who clearly states that performances for children should be staged with the same rigor as for adults. That is why it is always a pleasure to see occasional performances for children at her theatre. This production is not an exception.

It is a real feast for children—it’s a musical and a dancing performance that is full of positive energy, emotions and beautiful decorations. It is indeed a story about how wonderful it is to “discover the world and how interesting it is even to make mistakes and how fun and easy it is sometimes to rise even after you fall.” One of the theatre’s critics mentioned in his review that it

January 4, 9
Moscow Young Generation Theatre (MTYuZ)
10 Mamonovsky per.
Tel: +7 (495) 699-5360

feels that the play is staged from Tom Sawyer’s point of view, which means you are bound to be entertained following his pranks.

This play won the prize at the 2nd Moscow Theatre Festival for the Best Drama Play.

Ideal for children and adults from age 12.

Prima Donnas
The Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre

Since January is a holiday month, you might want to stick to comedy performances that will only strengthen your good mood and positive emotions. One of the productions that will be able to offer you a whole bouquet of positive energy is called Prima Donnas. It is based on a play written by the contemporary American playwright, Ken Ludwig. This play is a typical example of a “situation comedy”. It uses the same trick as in the famous American movie, “Some Like It Hot”, when two men change into women’s clothes and decide to act as women.

Evgeny Pisarev, a young director and the one who is called “the main specialist in the Broadway comedies” staged this play. Yuri Chursin and Dmitry Duzhev, who are known from a couple of TV series, play the leading roles in this production.

As in many Broadway comedies the starting point of the plot is money. The play tells the story of an old lady who is about to die and wants to share her $3 million inheritance among her three nieces; one of them lives with her and the other two she has never seen. The two main heroes dress up in women’s

January 20, 22
Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre
3 Kamergerski per.
Tel: +7 (495) 629-87-60, 692-67-48 

clothes and decide to act as these “far-away nieces”. Naturally, when they appear at their “aunt’s” house they fall in love with the local girls. They constantly change their clothes while acting as the girls’ friends and admirers.

One of the main charms of this production is that all acting parts are equally important. It’s not that you are coming to see one particular actor or actress. There is a great ensemble here. I laughed almost till I cried.

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