GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUELTheatre of Nations, Moscow
Director: Konstantin Bogomolov
Set designer: Larisa Lomakina
Konstantin Bogomolov’s talent – venomous, malignant, sarcastic – is nevertheless the talent of a bitter comedian. Bogomolov has always succeeded in assuaging our gloomy theatre avant-garde, full of pessimism, disruptiveness and decadence, and playing on the territory of pamphlet and tragi-farce, political cabaret and parody on mass culture.
In “Gargantua and Pantagruel” Bogomolov shows how the epoch changes in front of our eyes: the times of splendour, wild grasses, complexity, no inhibitions, corporal expressivity give way to a lenten epoch, moralistic, forbidding everything, limiting the idea of man. The director documents tectonic shifts in the conscience of a Russian: the end of the culture of all-acceptance and the looming “great ice-age”. Bogomolov’s theatre is an antidote to the aggression of complacence and self-containment cultivated by 2014 politicized society. It’s the kind of theatre where people laugh at their own selves – a rare occasion on the contemporary Russian scene.
We constantly deal with notions that lie outside, like the weather or politics. But we also interact with our own body, which we get to think of only when it gives us pain. For Rabelais the body itself becomes the object of reflection. Our aim is to plunge the audience into the sense of corporeality that is beyond the feeling of shame. Because Rabelais has no concept of shame.
In order to translate the strange ancient text in the language of today, Bogomolov adds in Kharms-style absurdity by giving the characters Russian names and making the actors play more than one character. Bogomolov’s "Gargantua and Pantagruel" is certainly not an illustration of lush vitality of the Renaissance. This is the story of how rapidly, absurdly and sometimes meaninglessly life goes by. How parents get older. And how, in the end of the day, they are all gone, even the giants.
Bogomolov Shows Why He's Moscow's Most Popular Director by John Freedman