Pushkin is Russia’s Shakespeare; Eugene Onegin the revered “national poem”. It’s perilous indeed to mess with: screenplays and even Tchaikovsky’s libretto are scorned. So, when a wildly imaginative stage adaptation plays to full houses in Moscow for three years, you know it’s exceptional.
Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas has employed a vast 45-strong company from the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre, to create a play on an operatic scale, featuring Russia’s finest actors speaking the original verse, seamlessly integrated with music, dance, and spectacular, indelible imagery. It finally toured the world to sold out shows and critical acclaim continuing in London and the United States, before returning to Russia whence this special performance will be shared.
Set in an enormous abstracted ballet studio, the stage teems with life and movement, propelled by an infectious score and all reflected darkly in a huge mirrored anthracite wall. There’s plenty of humour — Tuminas injects some strange, anarchic, Gogolian elements — but the intimate anguish of the story, of love requited too late, is there in precise and poignant detail: these actors can break an audience’s collective heart with the subtlest facial reaction.
It’s the magical wordless moments, though — a snowstorm swirling around a lantern-lit carriage, wind blown books that become birds, a woman dancing with a great bear — that will haunt you.
Adult $59 - Theatres are currently operating at 50% capacity as per SA Health guidelines. Bookings through BASS attract an $8.95 transaction fee.