RETALIATION 12Playwright and Director Centre, Moscow
Set design: Andrey Vipulis, KLIM
Costumes: Elena Tokareva
«Retaliation 12» is not just a new performance by the Playwright and Director Centre but rather a “comeback” of the director Klim, a student of Anatoly Vasiliev and Anatoly Efros to Moscow theatre life. A key figure of the Russian underground experimental theatre of the 80-ies – beginning of the 90-ies and an eternal avant-gardist Klim has only recently been entrusted a theatre where after a year of silence he released an uncompromising over the laws of time and the speed of current life performance. This is a monologue of an actress that sings, from the beginning to the end, two poems written by Alexander Block exactly a century ago. Fin de siècle music, mazurka rhythm and furious iambic pentameter of “Retaliation”; couplets and romances of “The Twelve” performed by Ksenia Orlova provide a gradual exposure to the mystery of poetic word. What the actress is doing in this show can be easily called a dervish whirling. By the end of the play her voice seems to separate from the body.
…Just a human being, the voice and space; no background music, no special effects. The performer who has just recently played in the GITIS student productions, languidly purrs Block’s iambic pentameters smoothly transiting from the intonations of Beth Gibbons to howling in the manner of rustic mourners. The barefoot actress shifts from one foot to another on the high-mounted scaffolding - either dancing or obeying a mysterious ritual. There are high mirrors everywhere reflecting symmetrical, constantly changing corridors of the scattered light. According to the logic of the play not lacking in eschatological notes these mirrors are something like windows that light up the scene with the sunset or the dawn glow, that can symbolize our country. The deliberate intimacy, with which Ksenia Orlova sings one verse after another, dropping the phrases and rolling up her eyes, attracts the audience’s attention like a magnet; and not so much to herself as to the text, the word, the rhythm, to the very Logos.
It seems that in this way the history of our motherland from the middle of the XIX century to the October Revolution, its fateful turn, is rolled out. There once was a promising poet, looking like Byron, the hero of the coming changes. While the ladies discuss his demonic nature and the gentlemen look at him with distrust, the poet turns into Kharms miracle worker who has not committed a single miracle. Meanwhile, the full of hope Russia puts on a wedding dress to meet dear-devil “Van’kas” with rifles. But still, of course, nothing is as simple as that.