DO NEVER PART WITH YOUR BELOVEDMoscow Youth Theatre
Director – Henrietta Yanovskaya
Space design – Sergei Barkhin
Costume designer – Yelena Orlova
Cast: Victoria Verberg, Arina Nesterova, Oksana Lagutina, Sofia Slivina, Evgeny Volotsky, Sofia Reisman, Sergei Belov, Yekaterina Kirchak, Tatiana Kanaeva, Natalia Zlatova, Ilya Sozykin, Ilona Borisova, Ruslan Bratov, Maria Ovchinnikova, Natalia Korchagina, Vyacheslav Platonov, Marina Zubanova, Pavel Poimalov, Yekaterina Alexandrushkina, Oleg Rebrov, Yelena Levchenko, Anton Korshunov, Polina Odintsova, Ilya Yermolov, Ilya Smirnov
Duration – 2 h. 15 min
Age restriction – 18+
Written in the early 1970-s, Volodin’s play consists of four episodes of divorce proceedings conducted by the judge who acts like chorus in the Greek theatre, commenting on anecdotal evidence. The play had been staged with great success many times but Volodin’s longing for life as thrilling as ever.
Yanovskaya’s production is energetic, fragmented and lacking any smoothness. In effect it provides no answers to the questions but it keeps the individual voice high and strikingly upright. The performance by the actors of one of Moscow’s best troupes is sensitive and one may even say melodramatic. Yanovskaya added a few documentary inserts to the original text that illustrate the lifestyle and sensibilities of the present day without disrupting the overall sad harmony.
In terms of performance style and techniques this performance borders on absolute perfection: a perfectly well-balanced composition, the clockwork rhythm, the dynamic background, the most thoroughly worked out mise-en-scenes…
Alexei Kiselev, Afisha
In “The Notes of the Inebriated Man” Alexander Volodin writes that as a boy he repeatedly had one and the same dream: “Here I’m flying and flying below are phosphorescing women, each slightly lifting her knee”. I don’t know if Henrietta Yanovskaya and Sergei Barkhin had such dreams but when the curtain opens this dream becomes actualized. The radiant girls in white dresses are floating in the air flashing exactly those knees and below there is the sea of green grass stretching out to the horizon. It’s something no less than the Garden of Eden. Those who are familiar with the play or have seen the movie “Don’t Part with Your Beloved” must be utterly shocked for they knew exactly where the action was supposed to be set – a dull courtroom and a succession of divorcing couples. As the action unfolds we discern the items of everyday life: the pipes hidden in the right wing, the iron spiral stairs upstage, the bicycle hanging on the wall of the shared accommodation, the stone ball on the pedestal somewhere in a public garden, a call-box, a folding bed and a chair for the judge. Indeed all marriages are made in heaven… A photographer runs out of the hall and clicks the shutter of his camera to perpetuate the happy moment, just like Chekhov’s Fedotik in “The Three Sisters”.
Maria Sedykh, Itogi
Household dramas, inebriety, stupid suspicions, absurd indictments, lost opportunities… All these are present here and now. One of Moscow’s best companies had truly suffered through these stories that no longer seem trivial. With exceptional psychological precision the cast acts out the unsightly facts of life. Victoria Verberg playing the judge deserves special mentioning. It is an extraordinary piece of theatre. Instead of portraying a small-minded bureaucrat (as she had been presented so far) the actress shows an infinitely miserable and friendless woman who has been doomed to daily hearing out the sufferings of others and in the meantime to not once betray the anguishes of her own. The judge here typifies the person who recovered her sight when it was too late and bowed to the inevitable.
Natalia Vitvitskaya, Vash Dosug
It seems appropriate to start the review of Henrietta Yanovskaya’s recent premiere of “Don’t Part with Your Beloved” with analyzing the work of set designer Sergei Barkhin. The sets are very simple and seem to have grown naturally out of the general concept of the production. The space is arranged in the way that makes all the characters exist separately and at the same time exist all together. The stage slightly tilted toward the auditorium is carpeted with green grass. Stage left are the spiral stairs painted or lit in red. It runs up steeply toward the flies or maybe toward the sky. Stage right is an ugly spiral metallic rubbish duct that, apart from performing the prescribed function, seems to be sucking out the characters’ souls. Centre stage is a huge stone ball that used to be a typical decoration in the Soviet public garden. Stage left there is also the detailed interior of the room of Mitya and Katya Lavrovs (Sofia Slivina and Evgeny Volotsky) – an old door unit that has been moved out of the wall exposing the room to the “cold of the floorless space”. A clothes-line is strung behind the door and photographer Vadim (Sergei Belov) is hanging wet photos on it with the help of clothes pegs. Upstage right is a transparent telephone booth from which Mitya will be calling Irina (Sofia Reisman). Downstage there is a small writing desk with an official identification number. Sitting at it is the judge (Victoria Verberg), a tough middle-aged bespectacled woman staring harshly and skeptically at the divorcees.
Alexandra Lavrova, Blog of St. Petersburg Theatre Journal