FEARGOGOL THEATRE (GOGOL-CENTER), Moscow
Director – Vladislav Nastashev
Project coordinator – Kirill Serebrennikov
Assistant costume designer – Alexander Barmenkov
Lighting designer – Igor Kapustin
Dramaturge – Lyuba Strizhak
Adapted and translated by Mikhail Ratgauz
Make-up artist – Andrei Danzig
Sound directors – Evgeny Tolmachev, Alexander Fedosyuk
Lights operator – Alexander Kranolutsky
Producer – Daria Koval
Cast: Evgeny Sangadjiev, Svetlana Bragarnik, Maria Selezneva, Jan Gae, Igor Bychkov, Julia Gomanyuk, Mikhail Troinik, Julia Zabara, Maya Ivashkevich, Lyudmila Gavrilova, Lera Gorin, Sergei Muravyev, Irina Rudnitskaya, Andrei Bolsunov
Duration – 2 h
Age restriction – 18+
Fear is one of the parts of a big “cinematic trilogy” staged in Gogol Center and invented by its art director Kirill Serebrennikov as a series of productions based on famous movie screenplays. Fear Eats the Soul by Rainer Werner Fassbinder was processed into a play by Lyubov Strizhak, a young playwright who used to work a lot at new drama documentary theatre projects. Here’s the new, “Moscow”, deal: instead of a black man there’s a young Tajik migrant laborer. An elderly intellectual Muscovite who lives downtown suddenly falls in love with him. The woman, portrayed by Svetlana Bragarnik, at first just feels sorry for the Tajik guy, offers him shelter and some food to eat. Later she suggests that they should get married which shocks her daughter, her son-in-law, as well as the gossiping ladies who live next door and her own colleagues. This story of inequality, inseparably related to the hate for everything that feels “strange”, is especially acute in Russia and of course in Moscow. It’s in Moscow that large-scale collisions between the inhabitants of a local residential area and the workers of a nearby vegetable market took place in autumn 2013. The production is mostly based on the endless play with plastic chairs – the main prop used to organize the action. It was directed by Vlad Navshev, Lev Dodin’s former graduate, who does a great deal of work back at home, in Latvia.
Unfinished as it may seem “Fear” no doubt has the potential to become a blockbuster: the brilliant actors, the star of the old Gogol Theatre Svetlana Bragarnik and young actor Evgeny Sangadjiev, go out of their ways to act out a simple, lucid and heartbreaking love story – a pure and sublime melodrama. In the meantime director Nastashev resolves the melodramatic conflict using not the instruments of the psychological -God forbid!- theatre, but those of an abstract performance and even of the theatre of the absurd. The actors are repeatedly moving the plastic furniture, climbing the tables (the 88-year-old Maya Ivashkevich being no exception), “eat” plastic and do many other curious things. Especially shocking is the central scene where neighbors and relatives are showering the marr
ying aging Russian lady and the young Tadjik boy with real and apparently rotten tomatoes. Pieces of tomato flesh even hit the audience and many who have come dressed in their Sunday best feel offended. Others regard it as an adequate technique to take the spectators out of the plastic conventionalism and bring them back to the real life, the latter being unpleasant, stinky, poisoned with hate, imbecility and spite.
Stas Tirkin, Komsomolskaya Pravda
There are nine actors on stage sitting in white plastic chairs that one often finds in cheap snack-bars. They are sitting in front of the tables, placed one on top of another and also looking like having been borrowed from a public catering facility. The show opens with a story recounted by a stout man. In short, two elderly residents of Moscow took pity on a young Tadjik who was being buried by his own compatriots after he had become disabled. And the Tadjik thanked them in his own distinctive manner: while the good Russian people were vacationing their house was devastated and robbed – the vile ingratitude of the “gastarbeiter” that has long become a custom. As he is telling his story the man uses the scotch tape to create the letters that say: “Guest from the South, go fuck yourselves!” It is best readable from the upper seats of the house.
Marina Raikina, Moskovsky Komsomolets
The heart of this production that instantly starts the entire blood circulatory system running is Gogol Theatre actress Svetlana Bragarnik as elderly pensioner Lida. It is precisely “the heart of gold” von Trier spoke about with reference to “The Idiots”. The soul that is capable of resisting fear and hate. Ms. Bragarnik plays not so much the woman’s love for the man as just the common sense that opposes the crushing insanity around her. To love is so normal whereas to hate and fear is basically plastic.
Gleb Sitkovsky, Colta.ru