Unexpected 'Kapnist Round Trip' IsPure Levitin

, The Moscow Times, 7.05.2009
Aside from taxes and you-know-what, the absolute inevitabilities oflife are few and far between. InMoscow, however, another phenomenon can beadded tothe list: Mikhail Levitin's Hermitage Theater will always, always toss upsome strange show that fits nomolds and suits noexpectations.

The latest inthis theater's long line ofquirky works is“Kapnist Round Trip.” This isnot amusical, although itcontains music written byAndrei Semyonov and Yuly Kim. Itisnot aproduction ofVasily Kapnist's 18th-century satire “Chicanery,” because itisactually aplay concocted byKim about the events surrounding the banning ofKapnist's play in1798. But itisnot merely aplay byKim, either, because much ofthe production presents scenes drawn from the original play.

Kapnist, though now largely forgotten, was one ofthe first major satirical playwrights inRussian history. “Chicanery” not only lambasted corrupt bureaucrats with adirectness that few ofhis predecessors dared employ, italso helped make the author one ofthe first writer-dissidents, ifyou will. His play soirritated the authorities that itwas banned after just four performances.

Kim and Levitin espied inthis story atale for all times. Awriter whose chief wish istopractice his art. Acapricious and ignorant emperor, onwhose whims everyone's fate depends. Agovernment bureaucracy whose sole inclination istogrow fatter. Common people running incircles attempting tosatisfy everyone but himself orherself.

Levitin and Kim get around the danger ofstaging scenes from afairly stilted— ifalso funny— play from the 18th century bypreviewing the entire story inasingle, opening monologue. Boris Romanov, playing the role ofacertain Pravdin, orMr.Truth, lays out inbrief the whole narrative ofhow Kapnist's play about bribe-takers soangers Pavel I(Yevgeny Kulakov) that heexiles the writer during the first intermission. However, asthe writer thinks that heisapproaching the Ural Mountains inchains, itturns out heisactually re-entering the city limits ofSt.Petersburg. Pavel issopleased with the second half ofthe play, inwhich the handsome Pryamikov (Sergei Oleksyak) wins the hand ofthe perky Sofya (Alla Chernykh), that herescinds his order tosend Kapnist toSiberia.

Kapnist (Alexei Shulin) spends much ofthe performance sleeping inafeathery bed ofpillows atcenter stage. Occasionally, hejerks upout ofhis stupor asifresponding toanasty dream. And, indeed, one wonders ifeverything weare watching isanightmare cooked upinKapnist's subconscious. What isworse? The voracious bureaucrats robbing people left and right, the screechy-voiced emperor confusing art for reality orthe sycophantic actors who play heartless bribe-takers but grovel atthe feet ofthe tsar? And what about the writer himself once herealizes that heisunexpectedly back infavor? Isthis dream ornightmare?

The bureaucrats— played asasingle, hydra-headed entity bythe actors Alexander Pozharov, Katya Teneta, Yury Amigo and Gennady Khrapunkov— float across the stage inaway that forces everyone tostop and wait for them every time they appear. Itisajolly quartet that even breaks into song aseach ofthe four prepares toempty someone's pockets.

If Kapnist's intent was tomount anattack oncorrupt officials, Levitin merely uses that topic asahumorous background for his own darker central theme— the attitude toward power inRussia. After his initial appearance, Kulakov's irascible Pavel israrely seen onstage. His shrieks and threats are hurled from abalcony where heremains out ofsight above the audience. That is, atleast, until the final moments when the unsuspecting spectators begin torealize that they, too, have been drawn into this theatrical game. Tofind out what Imean, you'll have tosee the show yourself.

The clean, empty space ofthe thrust stage revives aset that the late David Borovsky created for anearlier work byKim and Levitin. Itworks beautifully with the detailed historical costumes designed byOksana Yarmolnik.

“Kapnist Round Trip“ isnot your average theater production. The pacing often seems off-kilter, and the transitions from one play toanother can berough. But that isthe Levitin style. And then there's that ending that dumps everything inthe spectators' lap. That ispure Levitin, too.

„Kapnist Round Trip” (Kapnist Tuda iObratno) plays Sat. and Sun. at7p.m. atthe Hermitage Theater, located at3Karetny Ryad. Metro Chekhovskaya. Tel. 650-2076, 650-6742. www.ermitazh.theatre.ru. Running time: 2hours, 5minutes.







, .  , , , . , .

ࠗ . , , . , , 1798. , .

, , - . , , -, . , .

. , , . , . , 頗 . Ƞ , , , .

, , . , , , I( ), . , , , , , , , -. , ( ) ( ), .

( ) , . , . Ƞ , , , , , , . ? , , , , , , ? , , ? , ?

, , , , , . , , - .

, . . , , . , , , . , , .

, . , .

 . , . . Ƞ , , . . Moscow Times

!, , , 1.09.2009
, , , 1.09.2009
. ., 30.08.2009
: ߠ , , , (GZT.ru), 8.07.2009
, , , 27.05.2009
, , , 14.05.2009
Unexpected 'Kapnist Round Trip' IsPure Levitin, , The Moscow Times, 7.05.2009
— !, , , 21, 4.05.2009
. ?, , , 10.04.2009
, , Time Out , 10.04.2009
, , 14, 23.03.2009
, , 21.03.2009
  , , 20.03.2009