ANTIBODIESSt. Petersburg Documentary Stage, Baltic House Theatre
The second performance produced by the St. Petersburg documentary stage in 2010 concerns one of the most relevant topics for the "cultural capital" of today. The presence of "foreign" is particularly acute in the city on the Neva – and ethnic minorities there also have it hard. It is on their heads native St. Petersburg residents (just like residents in Moscow, Kandalaksha and everywhere else, however) bring down their righteous anger at the disorder and chaos. The youngest and most desperate rally in skinhead groups professing National Bolshevik slogans about how to equip Russia. One of such activists cut the throat of his peer, a student of Philosophy Department at the University and antifascist Timur Kacharava in 2005, when he was peacefully passing by a bookstore in Ligovsky prospect. There was a loud trial, the murderers and their accomplices were imprisoned, but it brought nothing but sorrow to both - the victim’s and the perpetrator’s the mothers, and also a painful question, the answer to which is being looked for in the ANTIBODIES.
One can hear the participants of the incident in the performance - the voices of a ridiculous and naive cop, Timur’s girl, the fellows of the murderer, so absurdly and un-heroically having slaughtered a very nice guy, and finally - both mothers. One is a simple woman, the other an educated one. One has no husband and never had, the other one has one, one worked in shifts in order to feed her son, and the other one was a friend of her boy and knew everything about him. But tragically, as it turned out, neither the one nor the other, understands the main thing - "why".
A Philosophy Department student, a hard-rock musician, one of the leaders of Food Not Bombs movement and antifascist Timur Kacharava was killed in the very city center, in front of a security guard from a nearby store, by young people just like him. The dramatic scenario of ANTIBODIES is based on the original interviews of both mothers – of the murdered and the murderer, Timur’s girl-friend, representatives of left and right-wing extremist youth groups, an anti-fascist and a former Nazi, the case investigator and the witness guard.
The dramatic conflict of the play is not based on the collision of fascists and anti-fascists, as a matter of fact, one of the scenes presents the fight between them just as a dangerous and tough, but a very exciting teenage game. Both groups are shown from different angles. Among the monologues presenting naive street philosophy, there is a story of a teenager who wanted to participate in any active youth group, but could not decide who to come by - the Nazis or the anti-fascists. He did not care. But nevertheless decided to join the "anti-fascists", because they were good, and the Nazis were evil. Though at times, the "good" turn out to be tough and even violent street fighters (which is not concealed in the play).
There are close-ups of depressed, confused, broken people, taken from a platform at arm's length by hand-held video cameras. It is unbearable not only for the mother and the relatives of murdered Timur (his parents and his girl-friend attended the premiere), but also for mother of Pasha, Timur’s murderer. It is impossible to express what these miserable women feel and how they live now. Both of them belong to the same generation, both are citizens of one country, but what different fates they have. The performance itself is devoid of hysteria and does without whining, pathos and exhortations. It is just a mirror, and what is reflected in it, makes further quiet comfortable life unthinkable.
The actors played a tragic story that happened six years ago in the interiors of a formal room (which is a hospital, a prison, and a university lecture hall). There are only seven characters in the play, they do not know each other, but allegedly linked together by common conscience. It As a result, it turned out as a performance about frustration, growing up, but mostly about irresponsibility.
St. Petersburg is known to be an invented city, not easily connected with reality. It is in Moscow that early Art Theatre (MKhT) community went to Khitrov market in search of documentary truth, and in St. Petersburg, a variety of "Meyerhold’s blackamoors" insisted on purely artistic, colorful and theatrical truth. That’s the way cultural tradition has been shaped, and it can’t be helped, but this may explain the reason why St. Petersburg theaters haven’t joined teatr.doc. movement for such a long time.
The theatre debut performance by Michael Patlasov, who is a film director, contains many journalistic techniques seen over and over again (tracking camera, close-ups on the screen, real news items, bright light beams, faces snatched out of gloom and chaos – Reinhardt tradition). But, in fact, is not so much ideology (what’s the use of proving the horrors of fascism and the generosity of "antifa") as an existential clash of destinies. These Boys live in crumpled times, no one needs their energy, so it finds an outlet where they see one, depending on the books read by them - Bakunin or Nietzsche. The characters of ANTIBODIES performance are not thugs, they are modern "Russian pundits" looking for the meaning of life.
Minimum acting, minimum stage effects. Such phlegmatic presentation affects stronger than any kind of melancholy. Especially that one can hear from stage the monologues of 2 mothers - of the murderer and the victim. It turns out that these women have much more in common than it might seem at first sight, and that the fates of them both are broken. In this light, the performance title ANTIBODIES takes on a different shade of meaning: not even the name "anti-fa", positioning themselves as leukocytes fighting against Nazi infection. ANTIBODIES is already understood more broadly as political extremism, like antimatter, collecting a bloody harvest, leaving behind a line of lonely crying mothers.
TimeOut, St. Petersburg