based on Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play “Music-Hall”


OKOLO Theatre, Moscow
Director Yury Pogrebnichko

Veteran avant-gardist Yury Pogrebnichko reflects on his path in theatre

There are three artists - Lidia Zagorskaya a touring actress and two other actors - on the stage. They represent an army of art which has suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of ordinary people. The best times for the touring actors are behind them but they still stick to their path. They have to amuse the audience with magic and other tricks, but at the same time they are trying to play Hamlet. Another actor, who the actress refers to as a “real Frenchman,” is sitting behind a drum kit. He bangs a drum, translates remarks into French and from time to time he becomes distracted, singing one or two French songs while strumming a guitar. The question could be asked why French? The fact is that the production is based on Music-hall, a play by the French avant-garde writer Jean-Luc Lagarce. The characters in the play constantly switch from everyday language to classical quotes. The veteran Moscow avant-gardist Yury Pogrebnichko continues the post-modern play. However, watching the show one gets the impression that the actress is improvising. In an amusing and pitiful way she talks about her personal experience, mixing up reality with the stage, confusing herself with Chekhov’s Arkadina and her young partner with Hamlet, defending the right of a cheap stool to exist in a theatre of comfortable chairs, as well as the way of an ascetic in a conformist world.

Elena Kovalskaya

In other productions by Yury Pogrebnichko it often happens that one text is stuck right up to another: plays by Volodin are followed by Dostoyevsky’s novels; Dostoyevsky’s novels with lyric poetry by Pushkin etc. In La Estrada Pogrebnichko mounts the text by Lagars with sketches from The Seagull by Chekhov where the actress – Ranevskaya – is also in the company of two male writers. In multi-figured, complicated compositions of other OKOLO productions the connection between texts is not that evident from the first glance. But here it is clear: the actress and two men appearing on the stage is the basis for a great amount of situations, from Chekhov to Shakespeare.

Valery Zolotukhin

There is no usual story with characters and the plot here; but still in Pogrebnichko’s production there is a protagonist - it is theatre itself. For quite a long time it looks like the director and actors are playing the fool, until you realize that you are attending at a unique event – a theatre self-actualization session. Between the words about fire <…>, quotations from The Seagull and Hamlet, stories about actor’s routine life a thread is stretched, and they all turn out to be very delicately, unreliably, and almost intangibly tied up. It is difficult to create a sillier or wiser show. Soap bubbles and a little fish form a crushing argument: it is impossible to tell explicitly about theatre. It is only possible to demonstrate what it can be: a few simple tricks out of which a miracle arises quietly, like a sigh. After all, theatre is a story which does not exist.

Vremya Novostey,
Yulia Chernikova