THE GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWANPushkin Theatre
This is the first work by Yury Butusov, one of the key figures in the St. Petersburg and Moscow theatre world, at the modernized Pushkin Theatre. Butusov rose to prominence in St. Petersburg’s Theatre on the Kryukov Canal, where together with like-minded actors and future Russian "stars" he shifted Beckett’s texts into the realm of tragic clownery. Butusov’s Moscow success, marked by multiple Golden Mask nominations, was mainly associated with the Satyricon theatre, where a well-trained troupe, headed by Konstantin Raikin, brilliantly realized the eccentric ideas of the director. Today Butusov runs the Lensovet Theatre in St. Petersburg.
This production of Brecht's play was designed by Alexander Shishkin, one of the best Russian artists, and he has done it exquisitely, succinctly and effectively. There is a small live orchestra (Pure Music ensemble) on stage, playing the blues by the German communist, Paul Dessau. There is a translucent screen over the stage with projections of vintage photos of hooded girls and uniformed boys. Butusov makes a flamboyant and impressive production of a play which is legendary in Russian theatre, the play which Yuri Lyubimov’s theatre opened with in 1964. Following the driving rock-and-roll beat, the audience is forced to closely follow the titles, where all the leftist slogans of Kurt Weill’s songs are repeated in red on black. The heartbreaking song of the pregnant Shen Te is a powerful finale to the performance, it is sung alternately in two languages – German and Russian, saying everything about the difficulty of being a good person, if even the very poor people in the suburbs are willing to cut your throat. The crushing impact of Butusov’s Brecht is in its visionary power, musicality and the relevance of the text, accurately asking questions of immorality to hit the nerve of today's reality.