The stormBolshoi Drama Theatre, St. Petersburg
Age category 16+
THE STORM, directed by Andrei Moguchy, with music composed by Alexander Manotskov and a set design by Vera Martynova unexpectedly became the season’s focal event, which pulled together many vectors of Russian theatre in recent years. The production was also a concise reply to the Ministry of Culture concerned about the promotion of the Russian classics. The production stylizes various artistic traditions: the aesthetic of the Russian avant-garde, medieval iconography and a complex of interwoven folk motifs, Palekh lacquer-box lubok, which Vera Martynova uses in the design of the branded silk curtains and the frightening blackness of the sacred fairytales and dark kingdom. All of this is synthesized on the basis of Kabuki or No theatre, where a connection with Meyerhold’s and Eisenstein’s work can be drawn. The rhythmical language, playing with dialects and chants, with chastushkas, slogans and laments, allows us to hear one of Russian principal plays not as slice-of-life play and describing customs, but as a poetic substance of the Russian myth. There is the gloomy Russian ignorance, death and sin, but also a starry abyss full of mystery. Ostrovsky’s play has been brought back to archaic medieval Rus, met with a tragic new century and turned into the basis for the most brilliant performance in 2016.