CAMERA OBSCURAAlexandrinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Director: Vera Popova
Set designer: Alexandra Lovyannikova, Lyosha Lobanov
Duration 1 h. 20 м.
Nearly the first-in-Russia attempt at object theatre. The stage is used as a testing ground where every object, every device will play its role at the hour stated.
It is perhaps the first Russian experience of the theatre of objects. It was put up at the experimental venue recently opened by the Aleksandrinsky theatre, one of the oldest Russian companies. The experiment is also in the fact that the characters are the two actors of the performance Alya Lovyannikova and Alexei Lobanov. During the whole performance they revive the matter in the huge scenic area, the parts of which are alternately moved away and brought closer to the spectators with the help of video materializing the idea of "camera obscura". The stage is used as a testing ground where every object and every device will play a role at the hour stated. In addition to Nabokov’s story told in a clear and a detailed way, this performance is also a monument to material culture and common things that surround and change us while staying unchanged.
The artists – participants of the production – do not play anything. Their “role” is static or dynamic presence in this or that composition, juggling with visual objects. Nabokov’s hero is intellectual Krechmar, a bourgeois family-man, father of a small daughter. His whole life is described in the style of black-and-white pictures that the artists turn over on the stage: grew up, studied, wed, gave birth to a child.
One mishap – and the literary fence, engirdling the stage, touched with the foot of Lyosha Lobanov, implodes and collapses: Krechmar falls in love with a young nymphet and breaks the family ways. In her turn, she loves the advertising films master Gorn, and when blind Krechmar tries to kill her, snatches away the revolver and kills him with one precise shot.
The production scenography breaks life moments into singular shots, in which close-ups are not for people, but more often for objects. There are no biographies in their theatrical sense, as there are no characters, really. The characters’ life stories are reflected in comic strips, artists flip through big albums with pictures: “Magda is 3 years old”, “Gorn - 27”, “Krechmar…” - it is one of the most witty tricks and at the same time one of the saddest scenes. The characters’ lives are easily depicted with the help of a few simple and at the same time merciless pictures.
In the production clockwork and meaningless hamsters crowd the stage closer to the final. And Lyosha Lobanov, leading the male story-line is left naked and with a fur head of a gigantic guinea pig. The image world of the production, which has room for a knight bleeding to death, for a pre-war zeppelin and red butterfly-nets, is inventive and, generally speaking, self-sufficient. It is fragments, reflecting the essence of being, that come to the fore here, deliberately leveling the dramatism of people’s fates, erasing the importance of individual biographies. Reaching the pessimistic conclusion of thickening darkness and senselessness of life, the creators of the production find themselves very close in intonation to the source.