VASSA ZHELEZNOVAMoscow Art Theatre after Chekhov
The stage of the Moscow Art Theatre in "Vassa Zheleznoa" looks like a hillside gently sky rising from the proscenium to the backcloth of the sky. The house of Vassa Borisovna Zheleznova, the owner of Volga steamship Company is spacious and rather empty, there are no at all, the light rakes the space through and through and the smooth black columns support the emptiness and not the ceiling. It is rather a ship than a house: at a certain moment the columns turn into chimneys, letting out smoke and buzzing, while the scaffolding looks more like a deck. The hands of Lev Erenburg, the director from St. Petersburg, are ruthless and his look is merciless. Almost the same thing happens to all Russian plays staged by him: the characters get to the director as if he were a doctor. They enter his consulting room more or less healthy, and leave it sick — their secret (and sometimes imaginary) vices and mental problems are exposed by Lion Ehrenburg. Sometimes it turns out scary, sometimes - funny and amusing, sometimes very physiologically painful, sometimes even disgusting, but always interesting and unexpected if anything. Gorky's play is about a dramatic clash of family passions and business interests. But the director doesn't seem to be interested in "development of capitalism in Russia" as a subject. And Russia itself is of great interest to him, or rather the Russian family, local characters and special way of life - rakish, sinful, intoxicating and unreasonable. In this sense "Vassa Zheleznova "literally cried out for the producer: the Zheleznov-Khrapov family in Gorky's play degenerates and dies in its last convulsions. The main success and nerve of the performance is Vassa played by Marina Golub. Her heroin has to be different, and the actress perfectly justifies these transitions, without turning Zheleznova either into a changeable hysterical woman or an insidious morph, the only thing Vassa can't achieve is happiness.