PAPAPART, MAMANMENT, MEMEMEURTMeyerhold Center, Moscow
Director – Yuri Muravitsky
Author – Fabienne Yvert
Dramaturge – Yekaterina Bondarenko
Choreographer – Anna Abalikhina
Set designer – Yekaterina Shcheglova
Music – Yelena Kaufman
Lighting designer – Ivan Vinogradov
Producer – Polina Kaulio
Cast: Grigory Kalinin, Svetlana Kamynina, Dmitry Arosiev, Artyom Simakin, Cécile Plaige, Mikhail Yefimov, Natalia Tereshkova, Svetlana Mikhalishcheva
Duration – 1 h
Age restriction – 16+
It’s a black box melancholic sketch about life rituals of a modern European family. It’s been nominated for the Golden Mask award in the “Innovation” category. The formal perfection of this production can easily be called its greatest advantage. There’s mother, father, their kid and grandmother all sitting, walking, watching TV and not talking to each other in a small living-room. In between there’s a furry mechanic cat that deftly runs from one corner to another. The family have lunch together, spend their free time together, but there have been no bonds between its members for a long time now. Dad is really going to leave them, mom has to lie, grandma is really dying. The “off-screen” text is recited by actors standing on the periphery outside the room, the way movies are voiced. Papa, witty and well-played, has become one of the first successes of the Meyerhold Center young team.
“Placing the interrogative “why” before each of the three parts of the title would explain the driving force of this text and of this performance. It is not only the decomposition of the ideal family myth. It is the attempt to find out why in reality families are so far from being ideal and why there is so much pathology present in the family relations. What’s wrong? But the main question we are asking is yet more global: what is it we call a family?
Deprived of all bearings, plunged into spiritual blindness and muteness, they are wandering behind the glass wall like in zero gravity, bumping into each other, not hearing or seeing the fragile world of spiritual kinship come tumbling down. They don’t hear the screams of the dying old woman, the abandoned woman, the humiliated man, the forlorn children. Nobody raises voice. The intonations of the actors reading the text are monotonous and dispassionate. The entire performance is permeated with this soundless scream and with what sounds almost like a plea for help.
Ksenia Larina, The New Times
The spectator knows the rules of the game. He perceives the manner of the actor’s scenic presence in unison with the set design, the lights, the music… This performance is an experiment with theatre conceived as the synthetic art. The three actors (Svetlana Mikhalishcheva, Natalia Tereshkova and Mikhail Yefimov) are reading the text of the play at sight. The ironic intonation, lacking rises or falls, only places full stops in the ends of the sentences.
Elizaveta Spivakovkaya, Theatre
The director actually nullifies the function of the actors who ceases being the conductor of the ideas and becomes merged with the sets. The text carries the story of many families and almost every sentence is a new story.
Olga Bitsan, St. Petersburg Theatre Journal