ONEGINKrasny Fakel State Drama Theatre, NOVOSIBIRSK
Director – Timofei Kulyabin
Choreography – Artur Oshchepkov
Lighting designer – Denis Solntsev
Musical score – Vladimir Bychkovsky
Set Designer – Oleg Golovko
Cast: Pavel Polyakov, Sergei Bogomolov, Vitali Gudkov, Daria Emelyanova, Valeria Kruchinina, Georgi Bolnev, Yelena Zhdanova, Irina Krivonos, Linda Ahmedzianova, Danil Lyapustin, Yelena Drinevskaya, Konstantin Kolesnik, Igor Belozerov
Duration – 2 h, 40 min
Age restriction – 18+
One of the favorites of the Russian regional theatre season Onegin staged by Timofei Kulyabin is an attempt to upgrade Pushkin’s personages. The play opens with a three times repeated sex ritual with Onegin lying under white sheets, Olga posing as a pretty movie starlet and the musical score from Madonna. The black-grey-and-white space created by designer Oleg Golovko incorporates the walls on which the characters write with chalk, each making his or her own statement and calling up a shooting-on-sets scene. Onegin’s suicide in the final scene is styled like an installation. With all the inventiveness of the director and designer at the core of the performance is Tatiana’s love story, quite simple, although with a touch of irony.
The director reduced “the encyclopedia of the Russian Life” to the life stories of the four characters turning it into a parable about love and the absence of love. The poster indicates: “Adapted from Pushkin’s novel”. The playbill offers a libretto like in case of a ballet performance which is an absolutely tongue-in-cheek text that parodies the very attempt of rendition that results (to quote Boris Nosik’s essay about Nabokov) in “a telegraph pole instead of a fir-tree”. Instead of acting out the story the performers are dancing it. Pushkin’s verses interfuse with what seem to be ad lib lines. Igor Belozerve is reciting the stanzas “off screen” with little if any accentuation – in fact he just dejectedly acknowledges the happenings that seem to be inexorable and insuperable. Pavel Polyakov and Daria Emelyanova act out the invincibility of nature that dooms the former to unrelieved boredom and endows the latter with the gift of acute and ever-lasting responsiveness. The duet that first took shape in “Gedda Gabler” rises to a higher level of performance when every gesture, stare or word are infused with Pushkin’s mercilessness toward some and tenderness toward others.
Jana Kolsinskaya, Sibnet
The finale is desperate and horrific and, like in Kulyabin’s two previous stagings, is infused with apocalyptic allusions. “Onegin” is not just a theatre performance – it is also an attempt of an aesthetic confession. The director has more than once admitted that previously his main purpose was to uphold his professional status whereas later he allowed himself personal meditations about the man and the world around him. This is probably the most precious quality of any performance, provided of course that the director has earned the right to it. No doubt Timefei Kulyabin as one of the most interesting directors of the new generation and a virtuoso pro has earned it.
Irina Aplatova, St. Petersburg Theatre Journal