A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRETennessee Williams Kolyada-Theatre, Yekaterinburg
Playwright and founder of the Yekaterinburg Drama School, Nikolai Kolyada, is often compared to Tenessee Williams, and not without cause. Both Kolyada and the American dramatist share love and compassion for the outcast, a wonderful talent for story telling, and the unique ability to depict human nature, by talking about the weird, little people on the outskirts of life. Kolyada, the director, often uses the scripts of Kolyada, the playwright, but this his first time he has staged a play by Tennessee Williams. A Streetcar Named Desire, which has finally appeared on the Kolyada-Theatre repertoire, is very similar to the director’s other productions. The same grunge, trash and carnival explore life’s very depths, Kolyada’s approach - take it or leave it.
Yet A Streetcar Named Desire is not like any other production. In Kolyada’s performance Blanche Du Bois and Stanley Kowalski seem to have shifted roles. Blanche, usually depicted as a frail, nervous woman, is transformed into a beautiful, elegant blonde. Kowalski, who we are used to seeing as a red-blooded male, is the opposite, a scrawny, anxious, unattractive man. Kowalski is just a common foot soldier in an insignificant army of many. Blanche, who keeps humming the melody of Lili Marleen, is too bright a star in this drab and dull planet (the director rhymes it with German Nazism); she is too big for this cramped world. Her existence is in itself a sharp rebuke, and, by demolishing her, Stanley Kowalski maintains the stability and simplicity of the unified order from the destructive force of human complexity and plentitude.
As always in Kolyada’s productions, a screaming, synchronically dancing crowd tumbles out on the stage. It silts through the doors of Stella and Stanly Kowalski’s house, and it seems that the walls themselves got soaked with their sweat and smell of last night’s alcohol. It is difficult to doubt by what the residents of this area – souteneurs, card-players and prostitutes - make a living. Stanly Kowalski is exceptional here. The acting of Oleg Yagodin makes him similar to Goebbels – small, hysterical, with Nazi tattoos on the arms and back he does not represent an abstract evil but a very concrete one. He is an emanation of the 30-ies, though in Kolyada’s production that time does not differ a lot from the modern times.
So when a luxurious tall blonde timidly and cautiously enters the house her figure immediately gets associated with Marlene Dietrich whose voice sounds somewhere nearby. Irina Ermolova (Blanche) presents one of the strongest actor’s works of the last season. She does not have any expected delicacy or fragility. She is thoroughbred and strong. And that is why when the wild habits of the violator finally drive her to frenzy it is perceived particularly strongly. Sickness and weakness of such a woman best of all reveal the horridness of the perverted epoch. In the ending, hiding in a suitcase like a small doll she easily agrees to follow the doctor and go to mental hospital. She gives him such a thankful glance which is difficult to forget, and she does it only because she felt some human warmth in his voice. When she leaves the stage, for a long time the walls keep the sound of her cracked voice and emanation of her broken femininity.
Rossiyskaya Newspaper, 16.09.2009
6 m x 6 m
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