Winner of 2010 Golden Mask for Best Russian Theatre Performance.
Vakhtangov Theatre, Moscow
Director: Rimas Tuminas
Composer: Faustas Latenas
Set designer: Adomas Yacovskis
Rimas Tuminas’s production was enthusiastically greeted by Moscow critics – not only for its undoubted merits but also because Uncle Vanya gave a positive response to the ‘accursed question’: is it possible at all to breathe life into a half-dead academic theatre today? Yes, it’s possible, answers the Vakhtangov Theatre but only in case there is a powerful director that is able to sweep his actors along with him. In Uncle Vanya there are a lot of witty solutions and paradoxical psychological moves. Rimas Tuminas seems to reflect Chekhov’s ‘scenes of rural life’ in secret false mirrors of otherness, and for this reason his performance turned out to be darkly eccentric. And you ask yourself: is it really that those on the stage are not ghosts of the country seat?
As for the Uncle Vanya himself, this role is the main success of the production – as well as the best in many years theatre role of Sergey Makovetsky. This never grown-up but already aged child, ingenuous and naïve, every moment ready to be ‘punished’ Uncle Vanya seems to argue with the last years’ theatre tendency that is accusatory of the protagonist. Makovetsky’s character is a nice blunderer, a very sincere and pure person. After the final monologue that was recited more like damnation rather than consolation Sonya makes out of her compliant uncle a mannequin with straddling arms, wide open eyes and an unnaturally stretched smile. Uncle Vanya spent his life with eyes wide-shut; he meets death – the darkness where he goes to can only mean that – with eyes wide-open.
Generally speaking, Tuminas made quite a simple thing. He presented all the characters of the play, from Serebryakov to Voinitsky without exception, as unlucky people overcoming their complexes (everyone does it in his/her own way). He uncovered and enlarged this hidden theme of Chekhov’s play. The plain Sonya (Maria Berdinskikh) feels the burden of her plainness; the habitual drunkard Astrov (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) suffers from everybody’s ‘deafness’ to his evidently absurd forest ideas; Waffles (Yuri Kraskov) gets rid of his isolation. Uncle Vanya (Serguei Makovetsky) himself gets rid of his dream – he wants to be like Schopenhauer but more resembles Waffles. The aged, ‘hit in his head with a dusty sack’ and never grown up boy who cannot possibly become a man… The scenic caricatures set to music by Faustas Latenas partly remind divertissement or a sort of freaks’ parade that have to live under the same roof with each other. But from time to time these freaks reveal something different from their complexes. Some enlightenness…
7 Septemebr 2009