DRUNKMeyerhold Centre and Moscow Art Theatre, Moscow
Director: Viktor Ryzhakov, Oleg Glushkov
Set designer: Maria Tregubova, Alexei Tregubov
Victor Ryzhakov’s production of the leading Russian playwright Ivan Vyrypaev's play is set on the unstable ground of a lopsided rectangular podium. The genre of “Drunk” is somewhere between a concert and a farce.
It is not the first time Victor Ryzhakov has staged a Vyrypaev’s play: productions of “Oxygen” and “Genesis No.2” in their own time became manifestoes of new Russian theatre, and “July” focused on the rhythm and poetry of text, exploring the new approach to the plot, which lies in the sphere of dramaturgic construction and language.
“Drunk” is, perhaps, the most “theatrical” of Ryzhakov’s productions of Vyrypaev’s plays; it is first and foremost an example of a rare actor ensemble in theatre. Ivan Vyrypaev, who frequently hides philosophical deliberations under the mask of a traditional plot, wrote a play-essay: numerous characters argue, make peace, sort things out, fall in love, get married and divorced, and constantly philosophize. Their exaggerated inclination towards searching for the sense of life is explained by the author with an ironic twist – they are just desperately drunk. Yet, as with Omar Khayam, whose poem serves as an epigraph to the play, drunkenness is more of a state of the soul than a physiological factor.
Ryzhakov’s production deliberately buys the mock storyline of the play, and, theatralising Vyrypaev’s intellectual games, makes its heroes dive into the boundless depth of seeming insights.
Vyrypaev’s new play was commissioned by Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus which thanks to the efforts of Stefan Schmidtke has become a major European embassy of Russian theatre. Two years ago Andrei Moguchyi premiered here with Kafka’s “Process”. Then Schmidtke puts again his bet on Russians by inviting Victor Ryzhakov to stage VYrypaev’s "Drunk" in collaboration with set designer Tregubova, choreographer Oleg Glushkov and composer Alexander Manotskov. In the Moscow reincarnation of "Drunk" one can clearly hear the echo of a passionate cabaret that is so easily grasped by the German actors…. Ryzhakov’s style is somewhat similar to Alice Zandvik, who skillfully combines grotesque with realistic detailed psychological acting. This is what happens in "Drunk": people with whitened faces, clown balls on the nose and big red wigs are extremely specific in their mode of behavior and "speaking". This paradox lies in the foundation of Ryzhakov’s most successful hits, like the scene in the vegetarian restaurant….