TALENTS AND ADMIRERSMayakovsky Theatre, Moscow
In the play by Alexander Ostrovsky's (1882), an old failed entrepreneur, remaining as a prompter at his theatre, because he loves it to distraction, tells an old tragic actor: "art is the measure". The first performance produced by the 39-year-old Mindaugas Karbauskis at the Mayakovsky Theatre after becoming its leader, corresponds to this formula: it has an adequate measure of old, traditional theatre, and exactly the same measure of the new one. Minimalistic music, rotation of the bull-wheel, even the chronology respectfully obey the natural acting tempo of the oldest actors (the performance is three and a half hours long, but the time glides). Everything is commanded by the actor, and even the stage circle isn't turned by the mechanic and his machine, but by the actors' feet. Sometimes it seems that the director has almost dissociated himself from the performance, but it only seems so: the director simply knows the right measure, as already mentioned before. Today, that there is a lot of talk in Russia, regarding the future of the repertory theatre, which is "an outdated hanger-on of the community, a monster devouring its own children", Karbauskis enters the monster's den and tames it by love. That's actually what the play is all about: there is a lot of banality at the theatre, but there is also a lot of poetry; it takes love and sobriety in order to work in it; a person of talent is not a hero or a revolutionary. He won't be broken, but he doesn't reshape the world to fit himself, otherwise all his power and his entire life would be wasted on fighting and hatred.
The press release of the new production notifies:"Nearly 10 years after the production of "The Histrionic" by T. Bernhard, Karbauskis returns to his attempt at looking into the laws of actors' nature, investigation of the theatre world mechanism ". Well obviously! But the second inner subject of the performance sounds even stronger in it. That's what makes the plot of 1882, alive. Honor and common sense, pride and the basics of survival, the strength of self-reliance and the charm of capital — those are the subjects of the TALENTS AND ADMIRERS by Karbauskis.
TALENTS AND ADMIRERS by Karbauskis is a theatrically multi-layer story, the directed reads the play, without skipping any details, discussing Ostrovsky's situations, conflicts and collisions, dividing the action into several plots (from life and theatre), achieving acting brilliance of absolutely all performers. In this performance, there is less of the existential aspect that Karbauskisis is so famous for, and more of the lyrical one, which is natural for a performance about the theatre and about himself. It is impossible to do without identification in this subject, and sometimes it seems to me like in Flaubert' utterance, who said "Madame Bovary is me", Karbauskis could say: "Sasha Negina is me"
St. Petersburg Theatre Journal
TALENTS AND ADMIRERS is a high-quality and stylish production, compelling to note the maturity of the producer himself and his bleak prospects of our future once again. He counted on making destinies, dialogues and remarks recognizable. Both two centuries ago, and today the theatre is an eternal stage. Sometimes it is worth regular life, but it's never worth ourselves.
No matter how much is said about the identifiable style of Karbauskis there is something new for him in TALENTS AND ADMIRERS. On the one hand, there is humor, so rare for the producer: there is not just the funny acting but also many playful inventions — from the part of "a person serving at the theatre", turning from Ivan into Matrena before our eyes and back, to the locomotive, made up of a piano and chairs with a smoking samovar in front. And take the ironic "ballet" of the actors riding the bull-wheel, pushing off with feet. On the other hand, it is a new thing for the producer who has always, in one way or another, staged sinister performances of death, suddenly to turn his face to life.
However, he sees this life soberly, without delusions. As the play, which was most often played as a story about talent, ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of art, even love, Karbauskis turns into a story about someone who was honesty itself yesterday, is ready for a compromise today, explaining it by the fact that in such a way (giving oneself up because of big money and opportunities) one can devote himself to the same art in a complete and more successful way. And the sad topsy-turn is that when saying good-bye to her abandoned fiancé Sasha proves her rightness to him with ardor, but, in fact, tries to convince only herself and does not believe any of her own words. But the formerly uncompromising Petya releases his student with sorrow and without anger, refusing to judge her. And how to say after it that Ostrovsky is not a modern playwright?
The Moscow News
The Moscow Times