The Maly Theatre for the very first time turns to the work of the Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Ilan Ronen, former Artistic director of The Habima, the National Theatre of Israel, undertook to produce «The Visit of the Old Lady» on the historical stage of the Maly Theatre. 27 years ago he already worked with the renowned Moscow company – back then an Israeli director was invited to stage «Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme» by Molière. And it turns out that the director managed to repeat his success of a quarter of a century ago.
Dürrenmatt's play is a true gift for any theatre company. The work is spectacular and "heavily-populated" - 40 characters! However, Ilan Ronen picked only 16 actors, entrusting some of them with several roles.
- That's the essence of the theatre, when the actors can switch roles. And the audience loves it. Then it is immediately clear that they are in the theatre, - the director explains.
It is Lyudmila Titova, who brings the main character of Claire Zachanassian to life on the stage.. Perhaps Ilan Ronen made his choice, having seen the actress in the title role in last season’s premiere – «Vassa Zheleznova. The First Version.» The image of the "Iron lady" suits her. Claire’s former lover, Alfred Ill, is performed by Vasiliy Bochkaryov. The premiere of the performance was a gift for his anniversary - on November 22 People's Artist of Russia, Vasiliy Ivanovich celebrated his 75th birthday.
Set designer Lily Ben Nachshon created the space of the old railway station on the stage that easily turns into a reception hall and a court room. And it all begins with the huge clock counting down the minutes until the the arrival of billionaire Claire Zachanassian. The crowd of citizens led by the Mayor (Alexander Klyukvin) is visibly nervous and is preparing a speech to honour the guest. The old official knows how to welcome important guests, especially when the whole city has gone into bankruptcy. But the guest has completely different plans on her mind.
The old woman returns to her former hometown to take revenge on Alfred. 45 years ago her lover renounced her and their future child. The 17-year-old pregnant Claire was kicked out of the town in disgrace. She found a shelter in a brothel. But now she has the money, the power and the eighth husband and - a lot of property in Güllen …
The appearance of the old lady is spectacular. Through the clouds of smoke, leaning on the cane, limping Clara comes out surrounded by bodyguards and lackeys. Here we should also mention the work of the lighting designer, Andrey Izotov - with the help of shadows and light, he creates that grandiose and at the same time sinister image of the main character. After all, Claire is not a philanthropist, she is a terrible puppeteer who will play with peoples’ lives. 'Everything can be bought', says Claire. 'A billion for Güllen if someone kills Alfred Ill.'
Gradually, even those who were afraid of getting their hands dirty in exchange for a billion changed their principles. This transformation of the personality is conveyed by the costume design produced by Anat Sternschuss Bedani. If at the beginning all townspeople looked like a gray mass, then with the appearance of the Old Lady in their lives, they gradually begin to become covered in gold. Boots, ties, mufflers, hats, portfolios from stage to scene turn yellow. Only Ill remains that gray shopkeeper, betrayed and killed by his closest ones.
Zoya Igumnova, Izvestia, November 27, 2017