Premiere: 21 May, 2021 (Theatre of Nations, Moscow)
“In terms of genre, this is borscht, but in essence it is a study of the phenomenon of the Russian chthonic,” – this is how director Maxim Didenko defined the nature of his new production. In the performance based on Nikolai Leskov’s story “Lefty”, he decided to delve into the nature of the Russian unconscious – that “underground irrational force” that has ruled the life of Russia throughout history.
“The idea of this performance was given to me by Evgeny Mironov. Together with designer Masha Tregubova, we had been thinking it over for a long time and created a kind of neural network on the stage, where any element can cause the most unpredictable consequences”, says Maxim Didenko. “Playwright Valery Pecheikin wrote interesting monologues for Lefty, and we decided to give the text of Leskov’s work itself in the form of captions to pictures on the screen. And between all this there a real polyphony should appear.”
Like Leskov’s unique words – nymphozoria, tinyscope, slanderton, the Terranean Sea – strange complex terms and characters appear in Didenko’s performance, each of which, like Lefty himself in the original story, can affect the affairs of an entire state. For example, village men dancing a “plastic coulibiac” on the theme of Japanese hokku. The show’s masterpiece is a steel flea, which is performed in different casts by the prima ballerina of the Mariinsky Theater Diana Vishneva and the soloist of the ballet of the Musical Theater named after K.S. Stanislavsky and Vl. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko Ksenia Shevtsova. Theater and film actors Evgeny Stychkin and Alexander Yakin star in the role of the main craftsman Lefty.
The main element of the stage design is a huge mountain of (Russian) earth, which was made in special workshops for monumental scenography.
“Our first rehearsal began when a machine that makes cotton candy was brought onto the stage,” the director reveals. “We used this candy floss to make curled wigs. And in order to understand how the material will behave in conditions of high humidity, we walked down the street near the Theatre of Nations with this candy floss on our heads and tested it for strength. This kind of research scope and meticulous attention to detail became the tuning fork of our future work.”