The Gift for the Weakest PersonAutor: Lyudmila Smirnova
Source: “Planeta Krasota”, Moscow theatre magazine, No. 3-4, 2013
The serious talk about the faith, the church (it is a trend to separate them now, but I prefer to separate them with a comma only) is based on the literary work of Maya Kucherskaya, that is considered “humorous genre” by many philologists. The collection of ironical stories in an easy, almost cartoonish manner, depicting the way the Orthodox Christianity exists in the modern word. I don’t mind it at all – how else can you make a modern Patericon?
The director’s attempt to find the reserves of dramatic tension where there is no contradictions by the very nature is understandable (the faith is faith, you either have it or you don’t); at the same time he tries to go away from didactics and to make an illusion of a vivid talk, that can be interesting not only for seminarians, to find the only possible mood…
The mood is right here. No one can blame “The Reading” for being too sentimental and false. This is a performance of immaculate taste, of a delicate workmanship, of a customized actors work. Its structure is unique. At first glance it is a first reading, perhaps prompted by an author’s comment “reading aloud and role-playing”; at the foundation of it there is a web of mono-performances (exactly the web, because the linearity of the composition is broken) based on the principle of collective improvisation. Twelve performers are sitting at the long wooden table with books in their hands, and each has their own set of sketches in no particular order (the order of sketches is different in different performances). Twelve readers and one empty chair. The transparent metaphor without any special accents – somebody stands up, several steps aside, quiet laughter, a nod, a reply... “Nothing happens”, but you keep a watchful eye on this “nothing”, and you marvel at the density of emotional contact, the minute details of actors’ cooperation. You think those young people in jeans read the pages for the first time together with the audience. But this is the illusion in question, and you gradually get the logic of the producer. I say this again: all the actors’ action are well-thought but at the same time incredibly sincere and convincing.
They say when the weak people have difficult moments in their life, it is enough for them to hear a voice that is addressed to them… the meaning in not so important. If this is the voice of Vyacheslav Dolgachev’s theatre, I am ready to be the weakest person ever.
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