A year ago, in an interview with theater director Maxim Didenko admitted: "The People's Theater is the direction in which one wants to move." At the request of Life around, journalist and theater columnist Nastya Nikolaeva went to Spiridonov’s mansion for the premiere of “Black Russian” - the new immersive Didenko-based thriller “Dubrovsky” - to understand how close the theater can get to the people.
Producer: Maxim Didenko
Playwright: Konstantin Fedorov based on the novel by A. S. Pushkin "Dubrovsky"
Cast: Artyom Tkachenko, Ravshana Kurkova, Vladimir Del, Vladimir Koshevoi, Ilya Kiporenko, Andrey Rebenkov, Julia Loboda, Evgeni Plitkin, Vano Miranyan
Composer: Ivan Kushnir
Choreographer: Evgeny Kulagin
Artist: Maria Tregubova
Costume Designer: Evgenia Panfilova
Lighting designer: Igor Fomin
The red carpet with gilded fences, people in fashionable shortened trousers are looking for their names on the lists and past the guard they climb the front steps of the mansion in Maly Gnezdnikovsky Lane. Today it is the house of the noble Russian master Kirila Troekurov, where the action of the immersive production of Maxim Didenko according to Pushkin's Dubrovsky is unfolding. In the hall it smells of fir branches laid along the walls, and we move further towards the mirror fixed inside the upright coffin to put on a mask of a deer, fox or owl. Now everything is ready for the performance (but for now it seems like a party) in this gloomy house, "where everyone goes crazy."
A girl dressed as a nun, distributing masks, identified me as an owl. This means that I am following the line of the owner of the house, Kirila Petrovich, and not the line of Masha or Dubrovsky, which I secretly counted on. “Troekurov’s usual activities consisted of long feasts and pranks, of which some new acquaintance was usually the victim” - while the guests are gathering, I stagger down the first floor, wondering how far the director and actors will go in declared immersiveness. Will it be fun when the guest is locked up one on one in the room with the bear, and whether they will let us out of here at all, otherwise the owner, who is amused by the punch, may well order the gate to be locked until the morning. “Beware of the men in black,” interrupts a heroine who looks like one of the three girls with yarn from “Tales of Tsar Saltan,” and puts a note in my hand. After a few minutes, she will repeat her spell, handing me an apple. “It’s probably with poison,” I think, but I remember in time that it’s from another fairy tale. With this note and an apple as carriers of secret knowledge, I will walk for an hour and a half that the performance lasts, with full confidence that something will be useful to me to poison Prince Vereisky or at least open some old door.
Sorted into the three above-mentioned groups, we scatter, led by the actors, into different rooms of a small mansion, in smoke and under someone's loud howls. It’s easy to figure out which of the heroes is who, so re-reading the novel before viewing is not necessary. Here is this impressive young man, dressed in the French manner, apparently Dubrovsky; this gentleman lies in the bath with the girls and stands for Christian values - that means Troekurov; but this is Ravshan Kurkov - definitely, Masha. The action develops in the same order as Pushkin’s, but is not based on familiar scenes with dialogs, but on large metaphorical episodes where the actors mostly dance and sing, but again not the original text, but, for example, an unofficial national anthem from the 18th century "Thunder of victory, give out!" or a girl’s folk song, “Farewell to Beauty. Spit Weaving.” Because of the music in which composer Ivan Kushnir mixed traditional chants with minimal techno and trip-hop, the feeling of an intricate costume party does not leave me. At some point, the right association is: Black Russian is a domestic Halloween in black and white with braids, bare feet and a bear, as well as the walking dead in feathers, underpants with the American flag print and high studded heels. Stylish Russian folk rave.fotochke
More than 30 actors are involved in the play: several Mash and Dubrovsky, four Lukery and two Duni - half-insane daughters from the Station Warden. Three heroes with bloodied faces sharpen an ax - these are Arkhipy, village peasants. And so on. All of them, as has already been said, play three different storylines, so you won’t be able to see everything, as the program warns in advance. For example, it was a shame for me to miss the first meeting of Dubrovsky and Masha in the gazebo by the stream and what happened to Shabashkin, whom I fed dumplings. But all the others missed Troekurov’s harem and these same refectory games - a hand-eating competition, when the actor who played Shabashkin asked to feed him black dumplings, dipping them in snow-white sour cream beforehand. This moment is the height of the immersiveness of the performance. The designer refectory, which looks like a studio for filming a culinary show, has warm snacks, and the cook cuts the black sausage with a black knife and treats the audience with it. And now you are standing with these dumplings, as if you are participating in a wedding contest, Troekurov yells: "Help yourself, guests!" - and the guests nod and chew. For greater involvement, a little further away are rows of piles. I sniffed - vodka. A passing girl in a deer mask, not stopping, slammed one. We moved on.
Then there was a crib scene with real geese, a kid and a pig ("Contact Zoo!" - the audience rejoiced), where a drunk Troekurov fought with a bear to the cries of a servant. Then - dancing robbers in the forest among black pines. And then we were all together in a large hall at the ball, and after that we did not part.
The plot of Dubrovsky is straightforward, and it is written simply and bluntly, without any particular grace. Anna Akhmatova, considering this incomplete Pushkin story as his only failure and desire to earn money, said: “This, in contrast to the Queen of Spades, is a thing without Mystery. And he could not without Mystery. She, alone, attracted him uncontrollably.” In the play of Didenko, who himself calls it "an attempt to explore modern society," this secret - as, apparently, in life - does not appear.
After more than 180 years, "Black Russian" is an uncouth, wild, uncultured man "(as stated in the press release) has not gone away and cannot get away. Together with his drunken stupor, tendency to fatalism, vanity and a thirst to subjugate. Pushkin, not embarrassed, inserted at the very beginning of the novel a lengthy conclusion of the court between Troekurov and Dubrovsky the father, explaining this with the phrase "Believing that everyone will be pleased to see one of the ways in Russia we can lose our property, for which we have an undeniable right to own" . This method is to bribe judges and police officers. There can be nothing new. What secret was Anna Andreyevna talking about?
Taking the distance between the actors and the audience and involving everyone in these national games, the director once again ascertains the fact that we forgot how to pray, lost all fear and do not know what we are doing, but at the same time reminds us that some never knew how to do this. Black Russian is a kaleidoscope from scenes of Russian idle life with its inherent mortal sins and insanity. Like a vodka cocktail with coffee liqueur: delicious and beautiful, but it ends clearly. And if a couple of guests, in an effort to achieve greater immersiveness, lingered at a row of piles and climbed into the finals to dance on a huge revolving table, or otherwise showed their good mood, the performance would have become noticeably livelier. The claimed crazy atmosphere of the thriller should, apparently, arise due to dark light, smoke and actors who occasionally meaningfully look into your eyes or take your hand. But the audience, who saw other performances, promenades, or simply open to a new one, is unlikely to seem something surprising or intimidating. Nobody went crazy, everyone was just having fun - it's a pity you can’t take pictures.fotochke
Probably, it would be incorrect to attribute Didenko’s statement about the folk theater to “Black Russian”: this is an expensive beautiful production, participation in which costs 5 thousand rubles. But with its understandability and external wealth, it is very close to the people - like any theater show with special effects. Of course, it will find and has already found its audience: tickets for premieres have not been available for a long time, the rest are sold out two weeks in advance. However, the phrases from the description that “everyone sees their own performance”, that “it’s not customary to control oneself,” as well as the fact that this is the first event in this genre, sound too loud. Why I should beware of men in black, I still do not understand. On the contrary, they all the time helped everyone to understand where to get up, where you can’t sit down, which way to look, and so on. The note, too, was not yet useful, and shots were already being heard, and a voice from the loudspeaker asked us to leave the room immediately.
“We invite you to walk with your feet and feel with your heart the unfinished work of A. S. Pushkin“ Dubrovsky ”,” is written on the performance website. Walk with your feet - yes. What did you need to feel with your heart? Perhaps the irony is when at the end, after drinking, unhappy weddings and shootings, all the actors began chanting the lines "My friend, we will devote our souls to beautiful impulses from our homeland"?