Русь! Ты вся — маскарад на морозе?

Елена Дьякова, Новая газета from 25 December, 2010

Rimas Tuminas stages a copyright variation in the Vakhtangov Theatre: with the same set design by Adomas Yatsovskisa, Faustas Latenas’ music, with the same snow, silks, silent scenes, handmade cylinders and the waltz of Khachaturian. Arbenin – Yevgeny Knyazev.

The beauty is of different nature, than the one we have seen in the legendary “Masquerade” by Meyerhold. That one has been in the process of staging during six year, the period of all the splendor and flowering of imperial Russia.

Tuminas’ “Masquerade” is staged a century later, when the tragedy of a gentleman in perfect dress-coat that poisoned his wife at a ball on an absurd suspicion, and now muttering, “Oh pass by, pass by – you awakened snake” – and (according to the remark!) “is dropping his head into his hands … “. This tragedy … hmmm … is somewhat blocked by the subsequent experience.

Everything in Tuminas’ version is in explicit dialogue with the Empire style and the Modern. Lermontov here – is no longer a Russian Musset, but is rather a contemporary of Gogol. The women, carrying buckets and wacky people, dressed in shabby officers’ overcoats, hoving in a crowd of masks, Shtrikh and Kazarin wrapped in their Orenburg shawls. Prince Zvezdich here (Leonid Bichevin) is not a guardsman and a playboy, but simply a little boy, a paper soldier in epaulettes not up to him. (As for the Caucasus, where he was being sent at the final – it obviously is not a romantic backdrop for the tower of Queen Tamara, but a place where the real bullets hiss over the dusty coats.)…

Here we have either the “masquerade in Engelhardt,” and the ball, and the boudoir – on the street with its severe frost. Here the whacky Winter-man “(Oleg Lopukhov) is either muttering something in French, or rolling the snowball along St. Petersburg . As for Arbenin, after knowing the truth in the final, he changes the cylinder on the impoverished ear-flapped hat … No one can renounce from jail and madness. And it seems they shall continue wandering around together.Pungent, like a poisoned ice cream, slapstick of the new “Masquerade” arouses is in audience a sort of acute, whacky and almost epileptic love for this drown Atlantis…. Snow, blue silk, waltz.