Following the twin lights of Stanislavsky and Meyerhold
My first Globe to Globe show. The first play I’ve seen in Russian too, I think. Lots of Russian voices in the foyer. I bumped into Oscar, another Globe to Globe young director, who thinks there’ll be more room to lean on the yard balustrade by the interval. I think this crowd’s in for the long haul. They are.
Opening sequence – a taste of everything to come. The Duke sits in silence; a hunched messenger tracks across the stage in slow motion; Juliet slow dances on Claudio’s feet; clowns chase through the audience and burst boxes of plastic trash across the stage. If anyone steals the show, it’s Sergey Epishev who’s double cast as the Duke and Angelo. He’s playing two male leads and is twice the size of anyone else on stage – he can comfortably stand legs astride a table.
Faustas Latenas’s synth score plays a big part too. Especially for those of us in the audience who literally don’t understand a word, the tone and pace of the soundscape leads the way. Highlight – Angelo’s (and later Marianna’s) gaping mouth opens in a silent scream, with an eerie whistle cutting through from the speakers.
Vakhtangov Theatre follows the twin lights of Stanislavsky and Meyerhold. Psychology vs spectacle, inside vs outside, penetrating character experience to share with an audience. Ideal for the Globe? They have one performance left (Wednesday night) for you to see for yourself.
- Matthew Evans
A Giant on the Globe Stage
My second play during this festival, on the 24th of April was Measure for Measure, performed in Russian by the Vakhtangov Theatre. What can I say – there couldn’t have been more difference between Venus and Adonis and this Russian play.
I saw a lot of African tradition in Venus and Adonis whereas the Russian version of Measure for Measure had a more modern feel to it. I was slightly confused when I first saw the stage –plain tables and chairs all over the old (recreation) Elizabethan stage, but the actors developed an even more impressive stage design during the first few minutes – boxes with empty bottles, rubbish and books were thrown all over the stage – a rather unfamiliar but fascinating picture.
The Duke and Angelo – acted by the same –unbelievably tall Sergey Epishev– were great artificial characters – overdone facial expressions which were really great supported by the hard Russian language. There was a complete contrast between him and the small graceful Isabella who was very innocent and natural. A fabulous choice of actors.
This is the first time I have heard recorded music on the Globe Stage, the first time I have seen tables flying all over this stage, the first timeI have seen and heard Shakespeare in Russian – quite an event.
“The Masque of the Muscovites”
Ah. My first play at Globe to Globe, Measure for Measure. The smell of grilled meat pervades the yard; there is an expectant, excited bustle. I see someone who looks Roman Abramovich, but it turns out to be somebody else. Browsing through the festival booklet, I decide to try title each of my subsequent blogs with a Shakespeare quote with some relevance to the play I’m seeing. The quote above is from Loves Labours’ Lost.
The play begins. It is hypnotic. One moment (of many) to remember- the announcement of Isabella’s second arrival to Angelo; the omnipresent music changes, becomes frenetic, jazzy, jarring; Sergey Epishev, playing Angelo, tidies the debris laden stage in a panic. He doesn’t have much time, and he wants to impress: he arranges tables, plant pots, chairs, one at each end, a distance apart. He must have order, and yet there is a vanity and a desire to impress his visitor too. We see his psychological state writ large on the globe stage, an expressive articulation of inner eagerness and desire. Later this office is torn apart by his sexual appetite and aggression, just as his psyche is fractured by his desire for Isabella.
I step outside afterwards- the Vienna of Vakhtangov’s Theatre’s production is noxious, polluted by a sync- heavy sound track by Faustus Latenas, and rubbish. Locked within a cycle of anarchy and self-flagellation, Isabella a repeated victim in life, blown hither and thither is repeatedly under attack. I see the cast, dressed down in civvies. I ask what will they do this evening. ” The Lion King”, they reply.