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Theatre Review

Marina Lukanina

The Time of Women
The Sovremennik Theatre

This performance is based on the novel of the Russian Booker prize winner writer, Elena Chizhova. It was staged on a smaller stage, “The Other Stage”, in the framework of the Sovremennik cooperation project with the young directors— recent graduates from the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts.

The action takes place in Leningrad in the middle of the last century. The play tells a story of three old women who raised the child of their neighbor who works at the factory day and night. The child is born out of wedlock and is also deaf. They tell her stories of the Great Patriotic War. Then tragedy strikes when the girl’s mother gets sick with cancer. In order to protect her child from being taken away to a boarding school and losing a room in the apartment she decides to enter a sham marriage.

Alyona Babenko, a famous actress of the Sovremnnik Theatre, plays both the role of a mother and the role of a daughter. She has an outstanding talent for immediate transformation. She is exceptionally convincing in her acting which leaves you basically heartbroken as the story unfolds...

The characters of the three old ladies illustrate the lives of three different women who survived the horrors of Great Patriotic War and the Leningrad blockade with their own destinies and history of losses.

The young director Egor Peregydov has created a poetic performance despite the fact that it depicts tragic events.

When: February 16th at 7.30pm
Where: The Sovremennik Theatre,
Small Stage
19A Chistoprudny blvd

Regardless of the fact that the story being told is rather harsh, viewers see the ideal world created inside this apartment where these three women are raising a child with care and devotion.

This performance seems to be perfect especially to those who are interested to learn more about post-war life. It makes you believe that in the centre of any tragedy and hopeless situation there are always people who make a difference in this world.

Mademoiselle Nitouche
The Vakhtangov Theatre

This is a rather famous performance for this theatre. The first time it appeared on the stage, in 1944, it was hugely successful. During the war, the operetta genre was popular, and was encouraged by the government in order to help to keep moral up. However, things changed by 1949 when this performance became an example of “bourgeois decadent theatre.”

This musical performance tells the story of Mr. Selesten who teaches music in a monastic shelter for girls. He strikes everyone as a modest person. However, he is like that only during the day. At night he turns into Mr. Floridor, a compser of operettas. The nuns have absolutely no clue about this “double life” of his, whereas the girls notice his absence from the monastery at night. One of them—Deniza—finds some music from one of the operettas and learns all the roles. She falls in love with the music and convinces him to take her to the theatre. Soon she gets such a chance as his father asks Selesten to take her out to meet her potential husband.

Maria Aronova plays the head of the monastery shelter. She is the major star of the Vakhtangov Theatre, and her talent in comedy is compared with Maria Mironova. She is able to create exceptionally vivid characters. She has a superb voice and dancing skills—and can easily do the splits!

When: February 13, 22
Where: The Vakhtangov Theatre
Arbat str. 26
(499) 241-1679

A live orchestra is used in this performance and the actors sing live. And what also matters is that the story has a happy ending: Selestin’s dream to stage his own operetta comes true and Deniza becomes a singer and finds personal happiness.

The performance is full of positive energy, laughter and different collisions that are so common for the operetta’s genre. You won’t be disappointed!

Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
The Tabakov Theatre

The famous novel by Nikolai Leskov “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” has been re-scripted as a play at the Tabakov Theatre.

This is a story about a young woman who is bored to death, her husband is never home; they have no kids; her father-in-law is constantly spying on her. All of a sudden she meets and falls deeply in love with another man—a young guy named Sergey. It seems to her as if only now her life has some kind of meaning. She is ready to commit murder for her love if necessary.

The role of Katerina has been played by different prominent actresses throughout the years; Galina Vishnevskaya, a world-famous opera singer, created a wonderful opera role of Katerina. Daria Kalmykova, a young actress, stars in this role at the Tabakov Theatre. Alexander Mokhov, a world-famous actor from the same theatre, serves here as the director, set designer and light designer.

I’d say it’s really hard to judge the success of a set design which was rather plain (taking into account that the theatre is located in a basement). However, it doesn’t draw attention from the actual two main characters: Katerina and her lover Sergey.

When: February 11
Where: The Tabakov’s Theatre
1A Chaplygina str.
(495) 628-9685

Daria Kalmykova plays the role really convincingly and with the necessary “passion balance.” She doesn’t overdo it yet you are swept away by her magnificence and the ability to show both boredom (at the beginning) and real blind passion afterwards.

I wasn’t really impressed by the extra players who surrounded the main heroes; neither was the costume design interesting. But overall the performance leaves a good impression and is worth seeing.

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