OKOLO Theatre, Moscow
Presented in the frame of Russian Case
Director: Yuri Pogrebnichko
Age category 16+

Yuri Pogrebnichko has staged MAGADAN as a continuation of his nostalgic cabaret Russian Melancholy. But this cabaret is even more desperate and hopeless than the previous one; and indeed it is hardly «nostalgic». Amateur footage is shakily projected onto a crumpled white sheet and the writings of The Kolyma Tales as unseen stigmas softly become apparent to the music of «Tombe la neige», to the endless rattle of wheels and the rumble of rusty railway sleepers, to criminal songs with their melancholy for snowy towns as distant as Rio. There are none of Shalamov’s texts in the performance; however, there is a snowstorm which sweeps over two people somewhere in the Far North, there is Chekhov’s story about Vanka Zhukov who was whipped with shoemaker’s lasts, there is a girl-sculpture with a broken blue oar, there is a baked potato and a shot glass of vodka in the train carriage. There are strange men wearing Buddhist budenovkas (pointed helmets) and endless songs on Magadan, not camp songs but the songs which eat away the soul and harrow non-eliminated collective trauma. That is why Natalia Rozhkova sings endless prison chanson, that is why Nikolai Kosenko’s accordion is beside itself with pain, and why the compere Lilia Zagorskaya utters her sad sentences while looking like a village school teacher and why the young couple, Maria Pogrebnichko and Dmitri Bogdan, are full of lingering and hopeless patience. After all, the trauma of the camp past has not been eliminated, according to Pogrebnichko.

Alyona Karas