MAKBETH. THE MOVIE.Lensoviet Theatre, St. Petersburg
by William Shakespeare
Director – Yuri Butusov
Translation – A. Kronberg
Choreography – Nikolai Reutov
Cast: Roman Korcharzhevsky, Grigori Chabana, Laura Pitskherauli, Ivan Brovin, Vitali Kulikov, Oleg Feodorov, Alexander Novikov, Roman Baranov, Vsevolod Tsurilo, Anastasia Dyukova, Natalia Shumina, Eugenia Evstigneyeva, Maria Sinyayeva
Duration – 5 h. 15 min.
Age restriction – 18+
Yuri Butusov’s pasticcio of all different styles barely deals with the storyline of Shakespeare’s Makbeth. The original play is merely a pretext for the director to make his personal artistic statement that reflects both confusion from confronting the myth and the desire to unveil it.
Butusov’s project Makbeth. The Movie perfectly exemplifies the freedom of composition that consists of one sketch following another and all together they take shape of an intricate collage of fragments of stories, with multiplying characters and ritualistic repeats of one and the same motif – musical (Michael Jackson) or conceptual (overanxiety for self-destruction). Gorgeous Lady Makbeth (Laura Pitshelauri) is a maniac with cat-like grace moves from kill to kill and ultimately towards her own death acted out with almost balletic flamboyancy.
Butusov comes up not with another interpretation of the old story but consciously razes this story and he does it with the ardor that the only reminder of post-modernism is the portrait of young Alain Delon that decorates the otherwise naked stage.
“Makbeth. The Movie” stands out for dazzling naturalistic splendor and for no less dazzling ugliness of the props. It is the absolute contrast between the two poles of the universe. Suffice is to recall the scene where the warriors blood-stained by makeup craftsmen, flashing what looks like splutters of the brains sticking out of their ears and noses, engage in a dance sequence with semi-naked and naturally beautiful actresses playing the Witches. The latter have surely had their share of music. The music rings about for so long a time that the audience is provoked to start crying out “Enough! Get Butusov here on stage!”
Pavel Cherdyntsev, “Life-Theatre” private web-portal, St. Petersburg.
“Makbeth. The Movie” at Lensovet Theatre in St. Petersburg follows the non-linear cut principle. The director cuts the text, compiles the fragments, messes around with flashbacks and repeats, jumbles up the characters, and makes them swap the roles. He plays with variants and instead of cutting the otiose ones keeps them all intact. Butusov creates his six-hour epic searching for pin-point precision only to come up with perfect awareness that only by blending together all these “single pictures” the desired completeness can be achieved. There can be many variants of murder, of excruciating anticipation before the kill and of the agony after. Macbeth can kill Duncan, Duncan can slay Makbeth or Duncan can take the life of Duncan – the name of the game remains the same. Each one can smear himself with blood and throw up at seeing what he has done. No one speaks the words of prayer after committing the murder but each one goes into the exultant and agonizing ecstasy.
Anastasia Pauker-Bravina, “Theatre”
Owing to the distinctive musicality and the galloping rhythms the performance produces almost a touch-on-the-body effect. Yuri Butusov is trying to estrange himself from the material by broadly applying the motion picture techniques like non-linear cutting of swiftly changing episodes, camera, film, and downstage microphones. The “cameramen” enter and exit alternately and in the meantime create squares of light and single out particular “frames”… One of the melodies is Wong-Kar-Wai’s soundtrack for the movie “Fa yeung nin wa” (“The Love Mood”) that also incorporates a character’s line: “Don’t take it too seriously. It’s only a rehearsal”. However one has trouble with not taking seriously what’s happening on stage. It is impossible to hide head from the massive and destructive flow of energy. The surrealistic action in the style of David Lynch plunges the audience into the state of subtle sensuousness. “Makbeth. The Movie” is a beautiful nightmare that sends shivers down your spine and makes you feel like staying in it for good.
Alexandra Soldatova, “Ekran i Scena”
This production is infinitely far from being a canonic version. Here one finds neither iconic Shakespeare, nor period costumes or the medieval décor. One won’t hear the lute but will be flooded by the sounds of Scarlatti, Arvo Pärt, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Bjork, Kino, Zap Mama, Michael Jackson… The actors dance on stage and among the audience. The scenes are like flaming auroras, fragments of dreams and visions (much owing to the use of film projection).
The production consists of many extravaganzas – the spellbinding dance of the young witches, the spooky feast with murderous characters, Lady Makbeth riding in circles astride a hobbyhorse… Nearly a six-hour action with four intermissions turns out to be a not at all sentimental journey but a kind of self-immersion. Theatre is no less subjective than music or any of the visual arts. If it dictates rules, sets limits, curbs fantasy, edifies or lectures, it’s strictly speaking not a theatre but something more like career enhancement training courses.
Yelena Dobryakova, Svetsky St. Petersburg