All images by Julia Tregub
By Ivan Vyrypaev. Directed by Marat Gatzalov
What I Saw
The central event of the festival, presented on our last night in town, was the recently opened production of Ivan Vyrypaev’s DRUNKS, directed by visiting artist Marat Gatzalov. Arguably the most important Russian play of the past decade, it was already produced by major theaters in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and runs in many European theaters as well. All characters are drunk and don’t want to sober up, because it’s the only way for them to tell the truth, to speak from their hearts, or – as they believe – God speaks through the mouths while they are drunk. Vyrypaev finds an extremely effective way of forcing his characters to avoid any subtexts and speak straightforwardly about their feelings, fears, and believes. Gatzalov (who also did stage-design for the production) creates the adequately effective environment – smaller rotating circle, belted by 2 more revolving “donuts” of large and very large radiuses accordingly; while the central circle and the outer donut rotate in the same direction, the middle one does in the opposite. This movement only stops a couple of times during the performance, otherwise creating a permanent feel of instability, fluidity, and of a carnival; the latter supported by the addition of the amusement park elements onto the set.
Gatzalov (very much by using lights and video smartly) manages to explode this classical proscenium space, to break out of the box, and to unite the stage and the theater, which is extremely hard to do in this typically Soviet theatrical construction. The night we were watching the show, audience received it very well, yet I’ve heard it wasn’t true every time; there have been people walking out unhappy with how not clear the plot was to them, or how dark and disappointing the themes were. I strongly disagree with both statements, I’ve found the plot very clear, and a lot of scenes really funny, actually. Yet, every time before the show starts, Boris Milgram has to step out on stage, and talk to people about its importance and style. I don’t believe Russian audiences are much less conservative than American ones, so I appreciate persuasiveness with which Perm theater keeps promoting their more complicated shows like this one, and how finally they find “right” audiences for the “right” productions.