|Life and Fate | Maly Drama Theatre|
|Written by Sarah Green|
|Friday, 19 February 2010 14:28|
Viktor Shtrum and his family are the central characters in Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman’s epic tale of the grim realities of life in Russia in the 1940s under Stalin. The Mala Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg’s adaptation at His Majestys Theatre started slowly but proved to be a powerful and emotional performance, giving the audience a horrifying glimpse into a fairly recent period of history.
The performance started with a volleyball match but the net in the middle of the stage soon became a snow-topped prison fence and was used as both alternately throughout the play, highlighting the moments of joy even in difficult times and the physical separation of different groups of people. It was set not just in Russia but also in a German concentration camp and Shtrum’s Jewish mother Anna, who had been sent to a death camp, wandered on and offstage throughout the play, a haunting voice from the past.
Lev Dodin, artistic director of the Maly Drama Theater, was always going to face difficulties in translating such a giant work to the stage. He chose to focus primarily on the interaction between Viktor, his wife Luida and daughter Nadya, and juxtaposed these family scenes with life in a German concentration camp, where there were ideological discussions of communism and nationalism and comparisons between Communism and Nazism.
The set was slightly confusing at times, with characters from previous scenes remaining onstage while a new scene began. I soon realised some of the scenes were flashbacks but it was often hard to understand when events were happening. Having said that, given the theatrical limitations of space and time, Dodin did an admirable job in keeping the play flowing.
Essentially, Life and Fate was a celebration of ordinary people. Viktor Shtrum and his family dancing and laughing together, the prisoners singing Schubert, lovers making love – these were moments of joy in the midst of turmoil and horror. Sergey Kuryshev as Viktor Shtrum was warm, charismatic and emotional as he worked out his destiny with Elena Solomonova as Luida by his side, also gave an excellent performance.
Being in Russian with sub-titles worked to the play’s benefit, giving it more authenticity as the foreign accents sounded just that. As a history-lover, it was like being a witness to a moment in history. Three and a half hours is a long time to sit but it went by very quickly as I was thoroughly engrossed in the story. Despite the amount of philosophical debates between characters, Life and Fate still managed to stir up feelings of compassion, outrage, sadness and empathy.
Maly Drama Theatre presents
Life And Fate
Based on the novel by Vasily Grossman
Adapted and staged by Lev Dodin
Venue: His Majesty's Theatre
Wed 17 Feb, 7.00pm
Thu 18 Feb, 7.00pm
Sat 20 Feb, 7.00pm
Sun 21 Feb, 4.00pm
Mon 22 Feb, 7.00pm
Tue 23 Feb, 7.00pm
Duration: 3hr 30min including interval
Tickets: $82.50 - $59.50 (includes BOCS booking fees)
In Russian with surtitles
Comments (1)Subscribe to this comment's feed