"Far Away, In Other Lands", a recent offering at the Gogol Theatre, is a play about the Russian émigré experience. The 10th performance of this production was held in Wednesday night.
Two short pieces by Vladimir Maximov and Eduard Limonov have been imaginatively woven together to produce theatre of dramatic intensity. The play focuses on the heart and soul of man and celebrates the possibility of the exile's spiritual return.
Maximov left the Soviet Union for Paris over 18 years ago, when permission for his book to be published was refused. As a Russian dissident in Paris he was editor of the well-known journal, "Continent". The character of Govarukha is derived from his portrayal of the émigré writer Victor Nekrasov, who lived and died abroad.
The identity of the main character Varfolomei Ananasev is never in doubt as the name itself suggests autobiographical similarities with Limonov. The director uses dramatic scenes from Limonov`s work, "Eto Ya, Edichka".
Director Sergei Yashin creates superb insightful vignettes of these two writers. For Russian émigrés, the break from the homeland was usually final, with very remote possibilities for return, except in the realm of spirit.
The alienation and estrangement, even anguish of intellectuals severed from country, language and cultural moorings is vividly captured here.
This is perhaps all too familiar to the older generation of theatre goers, which explains the attentive involvement of audience. For the younger generation, Ananasev`s rebellion, his unconventional street slang is interesting. In the end it is Ananasev` s lyrical soul, his ability to love, which strikes a deep chord. The drama occurs both within and outside a glass structure resembling a flat. The entries and exits through a series of doors in this structure and the constant climbing up and down builds up dramatic tension.
Imaginative stage sets are designed by Yelena Kachelayeva.
In a uniformly well-cast production, Oleg Gushin impresses as Ananasev. This is Gushin's first play on the Moscow stage having begun his career in Ekaterinburg.
Gogol Drama Theatre
Ulitsa Kazakova 8a (Metro
Kurskaya), Tel. 26I-5528