Ivan Turgenev


Drama Theatre, Yaroslavl
Presented in the frame of Russian Case

Участник программы «Russian Case» Фестиваля 2016 года

Director: Yevgeny Marchelli

Yevgeny Marchelli staged Ivan Turgenev`s drama in the sand: the actors are performing on unstable ground. Similar to sand, the time is running fast, putting some on a pedestal and tearing others down. The competition between the women is so great, that sometimes the intensity of emotions renders the characters utterly speechless and we read their dialogues only in surtitles. The gallant lady of the house, Natalia Petrovna, changes her outfits all the time, but it doesn`t work. She cannot win the love she strives for. In contrast, the young girl Vera who was only short time ago running around the house, smeared with mud, with a bleeding knee, all of a sudden has become a fair woman with languor and domination over men. None of the characters can suppress their feelings, and an explosive temper enclosed in the small space sometimes becomes too evident. The rivalry of the women leads to atrophy and spiritual death: an unmet desire for love turns the lady into an old woman.

Pavel Rudnev

The production is devoid of any kind of prelude, the relaxed atmosphere of a cosy manor-house is broken by the nervous infatuation of Natalia Petrovna right from the very first minutes of the show. When spectators are still taking their seats - there is already life on stage: someone plays the piano, Rakitin reads Count Monte-Cristo in French. This elegiac sketch is deceiving: the unseeing look of Natalia Petrovna's broadly open dark eyes is directed right in front of her. Her straight back, the tragic fold of her lips, she is as if listening with all her body - not to Rakitin's monotonous murmur, but to what's going on in her soul. Natalia Petrovna copies her old mother-in-law - rudely, jauntily. She laughs with that vulgar laugh - to the utter surprise of stunned relatives and friends. Passionate, tempestuous, evil by nature - she is traumatised by her passion, and she cannot hide her disappointment. Marchelli tells us about the world of bright women and lack-luster men. Women who are genuine and brave, even if sometimes comic in their bravery, ridden by complexes, "by-passing" life.

St. Petersburg Theatre Journal

Marchelli decisively pulls the lyrical lace off the play, all this mint sentimentality and romanticism, leaving the bare and fairly vulgar intrigue of a country-house love affair. Everyone is suffering from attraction here. Belyaev with Verochka and servant Katya feed strawberries to each other in quite an erotic way, and jester Shpigelskiy cuts into the juicy red flesh of a watermelon as if with a sabre. This cynical doctor who doesn't do a thing when Verochka runs into a house with a bleeding knee, yet at the same time takes his time to tastefully massage Natalia Petrovna's breast, together with the slightly dumb landowner Bolshintsov, make a brilliant comic duo, reminding us again about the lowbrow genre of the play. And the director, smiling at the melodramaticism of the situation, sometimes turns on subtitles, which, together with the film scorer playing, creates the effect of old silent films.