Drums in the nightPushkin Theatre, Moscow
Pushkin Theatre, Moscow
Age category 18+
On the huge stage of the Pushkin Theatre, stripped back to the high brick wall, Kragler (Timofei Tribuntsev’s gasiform hero) appears in a wedding dress as a ghost, a dybbuk who terrorizes the living and does not allow them to free themselves from the past. “No corpses in our bed,” hysterically cries the new bridegroom Murk, who looks like a drowned man with his white face.
The stage is filled with fragments of nightmares: stories about soldiers’ bones rotting in Africa, and Kragler – either back from the battlefields of World War I or burned there to a black mummy – has returned to the living to stir their conscience. This cabaret lit with lanterns resembles Arthur Rimbaud’s Dance of the Hanged Men or Tadeusz Kantor’s The Dead Class with his puppet-corpses wailing for the living.
Drums in the night are a memory void of meaning; it is the gurgling of dybbuks and ghosts who have taken our bodies forever into their mechanical use. After all, if there are no lessons to be learnt from the past it catches us like a zombie.
When by the second act it becomes almost unbearable to watch this dance, Butusov and his co-author Alexander Shishkin send us on a documentary cinematic journey to the Berlin Wall, which is a real obsession of this theatre season (Viktor Ryzhakov’s Sasha, Take out the Trash staged at the Meyerhold Centre).
When we are back at the night cabaret, Kragler with his newly-found bride Anna, passionately played by Alexandra Ursulyak, turns into a simple citizen, who is glued to the television screen, from where he may again be called up for a war. And the drums will sound louder and more insistently, until in the finale, already when the actors take the bows, they turn into a real divertissement: the fascinated audience enthusiastically applauds, as if during a rock concert.