On March 27, the premiere of the performance “Demons” put on the stage by Yury Lubimov will take place in the Vakhtangov Theatre. The great prophesy novel of Fedor Dostoevsky, in the stage director’s opinion, sound like a warning today – for our country, for the world on the whole, for each one of us.
– The whole world is in crisis, – says Yury Lubimov, speaking about why he chose this particular work. – And this crisis is not economic. This is a general crisis of faith, and without faith, a person loses his solid base, loses moral axis and becomes a toy in the hands of various, nowise light, forces. The result is tragic. Terror, bloody take-overs, wars.
Violence prevails, and instincts, not reason, start to rule people.
Lev Tolstoy called “Demons” a feuilleton. And it turned out that this is not a feuilleton. It turned out that it describes in the scale of a provincial town the entire catastrophe that would cover Russia in 1917. And it describes what’s happening to the world now.
The main thing that troubled Dostoevsky is that something terrible is happening to the world through the actions, deeds of certain people obsessed by destructive ideas. He does not reveal it for the first time in his “Demons”, this subject is both in “Crime” and “The Brothers Karamazov”. But while there is a fight for a human soul there, then in “Demons” we see a soul which is already ruined. As a character for this novel, Dostoevsky selects a criminal inspiring others to commit crimes. For it is Stavrogin who suggests sealing plotters with blood, because blood, in his opinion, is the best cement.
The whole town N. is involved in the demonic whirl. During a bit more than one month (this is the timeliness of the chronicle novel) the spring of the hellish mechanism launched by them is unwound – a mechanism of intrigues, blackmail, forgery, denunciations, and bribery. All the techniques, the sense of destructive ideology, its philosophy and metaphysics is revealed before us. The secret – including the secret connections among the characters – come to light, but this light turns to death for almost all of them; the one who in many ways became a reason for this non-ancient tragedy – Nikolay Stavrogin – commits suicide as well.
In Lubimov’s staging this month passes during more than three hours. Space and time of the action are utterly compressed, and yet we see not the “scenes from the novel”, all of its main plot lines remain, all complex “connections” which constitute the flesh of its equally complex and multisided sense. Dostoevsky’s characters brought to life by the great gift of writer, mystic, psychologist act out a performance almost without stepping aside from their lines assigned to them eternally by the author’s will. But this “almost” contains all the freedom they have available.
The scenography of the performance – its author is Yury Lubimov himself – is minimalistic, and yet expressive, functional and utterly clear. Minimalism, even certain ascetism of the staging is meant to emphasize the priority of the word, to help a spectator to focus on text perception without being distracted by secondary details.
The center of the composition is black concert grand piano around which the main set-ups are built on the flawlessly even parquet; the background is a reproduction of the picture by the French classicist Claude Lorrain “Acis and Galatea” (“Golden Century» according to Stavrogin). The clock, a symbol of time, keeps its precise and dispassionate chronicle, and an icon, a symbol of faith and eternity, designates another dimension… All these are character elements of a classic interior where the action of the recent times is acted out – to the music of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century Igor Stravinsky and his devoted disciple Vladimir Martynov.For this performance, he made his variations in the spirit adequate to both “Demons” and “Petrushka” themes.
The time turned the man over, but the terrible lessons of the 20th century were not learnt by us. When they ask me now: what do you want to interest the spectator by? – I can only answer: Dostoevsky. Many people say now: this is so dark, we don’t want to see this, this is not for us. This is a superficial view on Dostoevsky. Yes, he leads readers through very dark areas, but he has light which enlightens these areas, he has hope. Dostoevsky was a deeply spiritual man, a Christian for whom the Gospel Book was the main book. “…Life is inside us, not outside, – he wrote. – Being a human among humans and remaining human forever, whatever grieves may come, without being depressed and losing heart — this is what life is, this is its task”.
Running time: 3 hours 30 min with one intermission.
The play is recommended for audience older than 16 years (16 +).
Premiere was on 27 March 2012