Set designer: Ksenia Peretrukhina
The production of Life Is Grand continues New Play on the New Stage, a joint program of Lyubimovka Festival of Young Playwrights, Alexei Kazantsev and Mikhail Roshchin Dramaturgy and Directing Center and THEATER.Doc.
A girl loves a bad guy, but marries his brother, a good guy. In traditional theatre such an outset would lead to a fratricidal drama, and in the play by Pavel Prjazhko the characters lie, are unfaithful, then shamelessly visit each other, and at the denouement say that life is grand (has gone right). Pavel Prjazhko demonstrates that a modern character is not fit for classical theatrical forms.
It was four years ago that Prjazhko appeared on the Russian stage and immediately became the main newsmaker of the new drama.
His plays seem to copy reality and criticize the present day life, but actually the goals set by Prjazhko are quite different. He studies the theatre, puts it to the test. He experiments with the plot, action, dialogue. In each of his new plays he provokes the theatre to break its own laws. Young directors are fond of his texts, therefore Prjazhko has a possibility of experimenting literally on stage. Eventually, also the head of Teatr.doc and one of the new drama ideologists, Michael Ugarov, took a great interest in Prjazhko’s work and decided that the only form in which Prjazhko’s characters would feel organic was reading, work-in-progress. The underdeveloped characters live their unique, one and only life as if it were no more than a rehearsal, and the first night were still ahead.
The problem of similarity to life did not worry Ugarov and Gatsalov at all. And in my opinion, this is a great step forward that new drama took. The directors were not interested in words (including taboo ones) but in the thing that appears at the interfaces between them. This would be called subtext in ‘old’ drama, and this is what new drama has not titled yet. They rejected the documentary character of the play deciding to start the show with play reading, gradually getting absorbed in it. And this rejection turned the text that seems to be precise like a Dictaphone recording into the fact of art. So as they say, this is what was to be proved.
Ugarov and co-director Marat Gatsalov found a very simple, but very effective, way to bring out the best in Pryazhko's play. The performance begins as a play reading, with the actors sitting in chairs on stage, reading their parts — including the stage directions — out of scripts. Almost imperceptibly, this “reading” turns into an actual performance. The chairs lined neatly in rows by designer Ksenia Peretrukhina are shuffled around and bunched into groups. Words begin jumping up off the page. Characters become real people.
In time, the remnants of humanity still left in these alcohol-ridden losers begin shining through. Whether or not you ever go so far as to care about them, or even sympathize with them, is surely a personal matter for every spectator. If backed into a corner, I would probably admit that I couldn't care less about them. Aren't these about the biggest cliches you can imagine? Crude, clueless, uncouth slobs not only accepting but wallowing in all the ignorance and destructive escapism of their age?
The Moscow Times,
5 m х 6 m
FOR AUDIENCE OF
100 - 200
SET UP TIME