Behind-the-scenes maneuvers: Moscow Bashmet and Dutch mutants

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At the end of March, according to tradition, but not by inertia, but with some special post-quarantine energy, the Theater Day was celebrated in the capital. Moscow premieres – from large-scale to chamber ones – confirm that even frankly boring performances find their audience. What can we say about performances-events! Theater reviewer Vlad Vasyukhin carefully studied the entire repertoire and prepared an overview of the most interesting.

“Date in Moscow”

Yuri Bashmet Art Festival with the participation of the Moscow Art Theater Gorky

Oddly enough, performances about Moscow, especially about modern ones, are a rarity on the capital’s stage. We do not take into account the ever-topical “Woe from Wit”. And in this sense, the initiative of Yuri Bashmet, who, as you know, was not born in the capital, but has long been living and working in the wide open spaces of Moscow, can only be welcomed.

It is clear that if Bashmet participates in the project, then the performance is musical (especially for the “New Moscow” orchestra, an orchestra pit was opened at the Gorky Moscow Art Theater, having removed the first three rows of the stalls). Therefore, the first in the list of authors of “Dating in Moscow” is the composer Alexander Tchaikovsky. Not devoid of mysticism, the play was composed by the actor and director of the theater “Near Stanislavsky’s House” Mikhail Palatnik, and Pavel Safonov directed it, as they say, “dying in actors”.

Scene from the play

Scene from the play “Date in Moscow”


As is clear from the simple-minded name, this is not only a love story, but also, and perhaps above all, a love story for a great city. The heroine with the speaking name Vera (Ekaterina Ryabova) comes to Moscow to study as a singing artist. True, she cannot choose whether to give her preference to the conservatory or GITIS. She will have exactly the same choice between two young people. It is clear that the girl’s path to the stars and personal happiness lies through thorns: she will immediately find herself without a phone and money, without acquaintances, but good Muscovites (first of all, the “good fairy” Eleanor, played by People’s Artist of Russia Svetlana Ryabova, according to life – the mother of the leading role) will not let her go to waste.

Despite the fact that there are only six characters in the play, the participation of the plastic theater “Mim-Orchestra” and the Chamber Choir of the Moscow Conservatory gives scope to the spectacle. It is planned that the performance will be actively touring, unobtrusively fighting against Muscovite phobia.

“King Lear”

Theater them. Vakhtangov

The Vakhtangovites now have so many scenes that the premieres come out one after the other, and it is at least strange to say, as other critics do, about some specific, “dedicated to the theater Vakhtangov spectator”. The audience that will go to “Baba Chanel” and “Tales of the Old Arbat” will fly out with a stopper from “Wojzeck” and “The Legend of the Chromonozhka”. And vice versa. BUT Since Yuri Butusov became the main director of the theater, special, typically Butusov spectators have trodden the road to the Arbat, who like to be charged with the electricity of their favorite director and unravel the ideas of the next blockbuster.

His fresh “King Lear” (is it necessary to remind theater-goers that Butusov had already staged Shakespeare’s tragedy in Moscow – in 2006, in “Satyricon”, with Konstantin Raikin in the title role) gave a generous occasion for superficial questions and a search for deep and ambiguous answers.

Evgenia Kregzhde as Cordelia in a scene from the play

Evgenia Kregzhde as Cordelia in a scene from the play “King Lear” directed by Yuri Butusov at the Evgeny Vakhtangov State Academic Theater

Photo: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko

Why is Lyra, who in his declining years retires and decides to divide his kingdom between three daughters, is played by 35-year-old Arthur Ivanov? Why are the roles of Cordelia and the Jester combined into one (excellent work by Eugene Kregzhde), as in the days of Shakespeare? Why does the director elevate this royal, yet family history literally to a cosmic, planetary scale, to a storm, which is embodied in the infernal scenography of Maxim Obrezkov? And such “why” and “why” during this almost four-hour performance, where there is a lot of music, energy and chaos, you can ask many more. And come out shocked and surprised …

“Winter Notes on Summer Experiences”

Theater of Nations

The title of the special interdisciplinary program of the Theater of Nations, timed to coincide with the 2021 anniversary of the author of Demons and Crime and Punishment, sounds a bit ominous: Dostoevsky 200. Almost like “load 200”.

The program, however, is lively, varied and rich. And now, when only a small part of what was planned has been made public, it would be ridiculous to argue – which is better: to release one, but an outstanding performance based on the works of Fedor Mikhailovich or about himself, or to present to the public a dozen “projects”, “sketches” and “laboratories” …

Scene from the play

Scene from the play “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions” at the Theater of Nations

Photo: Theater of Nations

The one and a half hour performance “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions” shown on the Small Stage cannot be accused of haste or negligence. Director Elena Nevezhina made a thorough staging of Dostoevsky’s travel diary – his impressions of Europe and Europeans in 1862. Set designer Anastasia Glebova came up with sturdy sets and costumes. Good artists Ilya Isaev and Liza Arzamasova, who play the writer and his companion, have learned kilometers of intellectual text and, to the extent of the talent released by God, they tried to voice it, live it up and play it. But, alas, the efforts of the entire team are in vain. The play came out boring, monotonous, soothing. The reason, of course, is Dostoevsky. He just wrote this text not for the stage.

“ONE HUNDRED. Sound climbing in 238 steps “


Actors come out, spread the rug and the theater begins. Today this formula of V. Nemirovich-Danchenko can be supported by other examples. What kind of performances the metropolitan stage does not offer! For example, no actors. Or – spectators come, put on headphones and go to wander around the theater in a small group.

Yulia Pospelova composed, and Alexander Khukhlin put on an inventive walker for a little over an hour on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Central Children’s Theater, which is now the Youth Theater, celebrated this year. Due to the fact that all the action is recorded on audio, the troupe’s “firsts” are involved in the performance: Evgeny Redko, Nina Dvorzhetskaya, Maksim Kerin, Petr Krasilov, Tatiana Matyukhova, Alexei Blokhin. And the audience’s favorite Nelly Uvarova plays the main role – the dressing room Number, on whose behalf the narration is being conducted. Other heroes include Mirror, Window, Chandeliers, Turntable, and along with them legendary historical figures: Natalya Sats, Anatoly Efros, Viktor Rozov, Valentina Sperantova …

Audio performance

Audio performance “STO”

Photo: RAMT

The history of this theater house located in the center of the capital is full, as well as the history of, perhaps, any theater, of tragic pages – repression, prohibitions, broken destinies, death. The play contains apocrypha, and anecdotes, and hoaxes, and there were. Plus – the absurdity of Soviet ideology (the meeting of the artistic council is one of the funniest and most terrible episodes). Plus – the history of the building itself (here Pushkin danced with Anna Kern). And, of course, memories of triumphs.

Backstage tours are now being practiced at several Moscow theaters, and the RAMT version is arguably the best to date. But all the same, the question does not leave: is it really necessary for a sophisticated theater-goer, that a common spectator, to see all this inside out and the black bread of the theater, cramped dressing rooms, narrow corridors, steep stairs, employees with a “snake”? Understand in what labors and torments, intrigues and squabbles art is born? Or should the theater still remain a secret, a mystery, a holiday?


Theater of the Russian Army

In fact, the autobiographical play “Balagan” by the American director and playwright Charles Morey refers to those works on which theaters make money, not “Golden Masks”. This is a comedy of provisions about the theatrical backstage, about the eternal love of art and about brotherhood “for the season”. The comedy is not stupid, not empty, but, frankly, not Beaumarchais and not Ostrovsky.

The action takes place in the American hinterland, in a large wooden shed, converted into a summer theater, where a semi-amateur troupe rehearses and plays for copper pennies in the warm season. And the fact that in the giant Army Theater from “Balagan” they did not start making a blockbuster, but decided to put it in a small and shabby bunker without scaffolding (it seems that the scenery was stored here before), in fact, in the same shed, suggests that artistic ambitions took over commercial ones.

Scene from the play

Scene from the play “Balagan”

Photo: Central Academic Theater of the Russian Army

It is worth remembering that the first production of this play in Russia was carried out seven years ago on the same small stage – in the SAD theater, located in the Pharmaceutical Garden. And that performance by Irina Pakhomova was both funnier and more dynamic.

Young director Danila Chashchin, having shortened a long play, focused on its romantic pages. In his “Balagan” – albeit sometimes absurd, but lively, sincere, touching people. And the actors of the Army Theater, headed by Sergei Kolesnikov, in the role of artistic director of “Balagan” by Gordon Page, are very convincing and reckless in their service to art.


Stanislavsky Electrotheatre

One of the most original and intensively working theaters in the capital, The Stanislavsky Electrotheatre has now acquired another stage, the Chamber. In March, the first premiere took place there: the play by Ivan Vyrypaev “Summer Wasps Bite Us Even in November” was staged by Varvara Obidor. However, in the review, which is not rubber, we will include something else and, to be honest, a much brighter premiere spectacle – “Cricket”, released on the Main Stage.

This is the rare case when a visit to a performance can be enthusiastically recommended to almost everyone – young and old (though there is a 16+ mark). And when we have before us really modern art – witty, stylish, sharp.

The play

The play “Cricket”

Photo: Denis Grishkin / Moscow Agency

Director Martha Horwitz gave Chekhov, Gogol and Shakespeare a rest and took material that was rarely staged in Russia. These are the tales of “Amsterdam Harms” and “Dutch Leskov” – 80-year-old Toon Tellegen (it is said that his grandfather was from Russia and bore the surname Telegin).

This performance, where mutant animals live in a fantastic forest, is hilariously funny, and ridiculous, and scary. And very beautiful (the case when you want to list the entire team of artists: Maria Tregubova, Evgenia Panfilova, Sergei Vasiliev, Ilya Starilov). “Cricket” I want to retell and revise again.