LADY MAKBETH OF OUR DISTRICTTYuZ, Moscow
Director – Kama Ginkas
Space design – Sergei Barkhin
Lighting Design – Evgeny Ginsburg
Choreography – Konstantin Mishin
Costume design – Yelena Orlova
Vocal consultant – Maria Nefedova
Cast: Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Igor Balalaev, Valery Barinov, Alexander Taranzhin, Oleg Rebrov, Yekaterina Alexandrushkina, Sofia Slivina, Stepan Stepanyan
Duration – 5 h, 15 min
Age restriction – 18+
The venue of the original 1865 version of the brutal history of one adultery that entailed three murders and one hard labor in exile sentence was designated as Our District rather than The Mtsensk District. Kama Ginkas widened the context of Leskov’s classical novella in the sense that such an incident could have happened anywhere and anytime and not necessarily in the Kursk Province.
The rusty “pipe” with slanting floor and the walls hung in Orthodox icons (the sets were designed by Ginkas’s long-term collaborator Sergei Barkhin) accommodates the drama of Katerina Izmailova (St. Petersburg’s Maly Drama Theatre actress Elizaveta Boyarskaya for the first time performed outside her “native” theatre), a young woman with an unquenchable thirst for living who demands more and more victims – her father-in-law, her husband and finally an underage nephew. The brutality of the simple Russian people enhanced by zealous religiousness was described by Tolstoy in The Power of Darkness, its heroines being real devil incarnates instigating the men to crimes. In Leskov’s novella the story is presented as exceptional. Ginkas’s production is also focused on the exceptionality for the space of the ordinary is too narrow for it.
Ginkas’s new production opens with the forced labor camp scene. The dingy grey overcoats of the convicts are rising higher and higher swinging in the yellowish light to the effect that we see not the people but their headless silhouettes – one, two… five. The church canticle “May My Prayer Be Right that accompanies the scene fails to lift the events to the level of a tragedy but only imparts dark hopelessness.
Sergei Barkhin’s set design consists of rusted out walls of a barn, a shabby fur coat, a sledge covered with hay that further accentuate the all-round disarray. There are no fluffy featherbeds or carved porches – nothing of the smooth coziness of a merchant’s household. The action not once breaks out of the limits of the barn and the love scenes take place on the same hay-covered sledge.
Maya Kucherskaya, Vedomosti
Kama Ginkas staged a play about the naissance of the murderer inside the man. The situation is only further escalated by the fact that murderous Katerina is played by young and beautiful Elezaveta Boyarskaya. Not for an instant the daughter-in-law of authoritative merchant Izmailov (convincingly performed by Valery Barinov) and the young wife of his weak-willed son looks like a victim. Having had her share of playing an obedient and loving wife, Katerina is bored. And it certainly wasn’t boredom she was looking for when marrying the son of the rich merchant. Having failed to get what she wanted from her husband she “goes fowling”. She draws a bead on a handsome household worker with the reputation of a lady-killer and gives herself to him without a shade of doubt or fear. The strict family rules are no obstacle for her. She is free and recognizes no one’s rights over herself, be it a man or the Almighty.
Yelena Grueva, Time Out
By definition there can be no issue with Sergei Barkhin’s set design. The space he creates always perfectly matches Kama Ginkas’s gloomy mindset. In this case it leaves no chance for Katerina. The slanting floor (life is going down the drain), the dirty anteroom, the bucket with ice-cold water, a heap of sheepskins looking like disemboweled carcasses of animals – these are the sets in which life goes on. From the outset the story is loopback. The convicts in transit are shown parenthetically but all at once. These living dead in overcoats are lined out, each humping shoulders from cold and fear. They keep humping them until nothing is left to see but these crumpled overcoats.
Natalia Vitvitskaya, Vash Dosug
“Lady Macbeth of Our District” is a very sensual performance woven out of the pure theatrical materials. The dark languor of the mistress in the grasping arms of the steward, the sweet stupor of the tea-drinking on the carpet under an apple-tree, the muggy heaven in sheepskins, the off-the-leash happy woman – all these are living and breathing on stage. Quite horrifying is the scene of Katerina’s dream: the father-in-low who was poisoned by raticide and mushrooms is haunting her like the first-guild Russian family phantom. It purrs, tramples the heated white flesh with its paws and keeps humming: “How’re you making out Katerina?”
Yelena Dyakova, Novaya Gazeta