THE TALE OF WHAT WE CAN AND WHAT WE CANNOTMOSCOW ART THEATRE
Based on the prose by Pyotr Lucik's and Alexei Samoryadov's screenplays
Stage adaptation – Mikhail Durnenkov
Director – Marat Gatsalov
Set designer – Ksenia Peretrukhina
Costume designer – Alexei Lobanov
Music – Dmitry Vlasik
Choreography – Irina Koshuba
Cast: Alexei Kravchenko, Natalia Kudriashova, Artyon Bystrov, Konstantin Gatsalov, Rostislav Lavrentiev, Alexander Molochnikov, Feodor Lavrov, Maxim Blinov, Dmitry Vlaskin, Artyom Volobuev, Alexei Krasnyonkov, Pavel Levkin, Nikolai Salnikov, Alexei Kirsanov, Georgyi Kovalev, Olga Voronina, Nina Guseva, Nadezhda Zharycheva, Maria Karpova, Julia Javetskaya
Duration – 1 h 40 min
Age restriction – 18+
This is a state version of the anti-utopia by emblematic post-Soviet script-writers Peter Luzik and Alexi Samoryadov who had written scripts for such movies as The Children of the Cast-Iron Gods, The Suburb and The Wild Field. In a distinctive parabolic manner the authors depict the 1990-s crisis in Russia when the social, economic and just human paradigms underwent dramatic change. Both writers died young but have left their mark in the history of the Russian cinema.
The Tale was adapted for the stage by “new drama” playwright Mikhail Durnenkov on commission from Moscow Art Theatre and specifically for director Marat Gatsalov. In collaboration with set designer Ksenia Petrukhina the director came up with a conceptually clean-cut and profound theatre performance. The viewers are seated in four separate rooms rushed through by the fear-stricken horde led by senior police officer Makhmoodov. This church-going and irreligious officer, impudent and helpless, horrible and weak-willed, convincingly personifies the regime that has stayed in power in Russia for quite a few years now. What Makhmoodov cannot do is getting his hook into the pretty red-haired widow and a part-time witch who runs a business under his nose and refuses to pay the traditional Russian kick-back.
The acting space is constricted to the size of a room and disrupts all the scenic canons. Ksenia Peretrukhina’s artistic attitude is so self-sufficing that it becomes the chief driving force of the director’s inspiration. The designer seems to declare: “Here is my world and you’re free to do whatever you wish in it”. The performance takes place inside each spectator separately. This is very strange and unusual, for theatre has always stood out for the collective emotion that seizes the audience separated from the stage by the glaring footlights. It turns out that experiencing a theatre event on your own can be no less exciting.
Ksenia Larina, The New Times
“The Tale of What We Can and What We Cannot ca” on the Small Stage of the Moscow Art Theatre is an enchantingly beautiful piece of theatre. Like a magic dream it sucks you in and leaves a protracted after-effect. Marat Gatsalov staged the text by two cult script writers of the 1990-s - Pyotr Lucik and Alexei Samoryadov - that was adapted for the stage by Mikhail Durnenkov. The sets were created by radical designer Ksenia Peretrukhina. This entrancingly staged story blends together Bulgakov’s mysticism, Pelevin’s humor, Gogol’s speculative fiction and perfectly recognizable horror style of the present day.
Natalia Vitvitskaya, Vash Dosug
The set designer arranged another sensual surprise: when the lights move upward one has the impression that the stage and the auditorium are simultaneously moving down. It’s like the degenerated nation of cops and holly-rollers is falling down into nothingness. Marat Gatsalov’s production has no doubt become a landmark in the newest history of the Moscow Art Theatre. However the final scene, somehow echoing Pelevin’s prose, still seems to need be made more specific style-wise. The parable about the crude and swinish powers-that-be are hopelessly struggling to be admired and loved by sinful and earthbound common folks is for some reason replaced by the story of love and jealousy thereby threatening to strip the performance of any meaning. On the other hand, this conflict lends an additional drive to the performance. A seamless performance in an academic theatre would look rather suspicious to say the least.
Roman Dolzhansky, Kommersant
Marat Gatsalov combines affected theatricality with intimidating genuineness and tongue-in-cheek shamanism. Police uniforms are embroidered with bauble, the cap insignias sport golden lions, sleeves are decorated with screw-nuts and the tie pin is shaped like a skull. Yet the man in front of you is a perfectly recognizable bad cop. And when the light bulbs rush upwards one has the frightful feeling of falling into the abyss lit by the stars above.
Alla Sheveleva, Culture