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BWW Review: GORBACHEV at The State Theatre Of Nations

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The production runs from October, 2020. Next dates: 8 sept 2021

BWW Review: GORBACHEV at The State Theatre Of Nations

Despite the ongoing pandemic the theatrical season 2020-2021 was very productive, especially for the State Theatre of Nations, where we can see some of the most influential and talented actors on stage, such as Yevgeniy Mironov and Chulpan Khamatova. "Gorbachev" turned out a sensational performance about true romantics who believe in love and try to save their relationship. It's not for the first time that the artistic director of New Riga Theater Almis Hermanis has collaborated with the Theatre of Nations, his previous performance "Shukshin's Tales" won several prestigious awards and has been on the theater stage as well as touring the world for more than 12 years now.
Almis Hermanis didn't merely focus on Mikhail Gorbachev's persona as a politician but tried instead to show the relationship between two loving people who cannot imagine their lives without each other. At the beginning of the show, young Mikhail Gorbachev who came from a provincial town to conquer the capital, fell in love with the city, then met the love of his life. The main actors read their parts on stage and seem to be rehearsing, trying to fathom Gorbachev's character, who in fact is Gorbachev? Why was he chosen to become the eighth and the last leader of the Soviet Union, being a sensitive man who worried about his ailing wife at the same time.
You can trace all the stages of Gorbachev's formation as a politician in this show: he had come a long way to become the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. But the whole story doesn't hinge on political thing, it is more of a love story, about a family man who was endlessly devoted to his wife and family. One of the key moments of the show occurs when Gorbachev says (while surrounded by a crowd of people welcoming him on US soil) that he is not going to make a speech because he is not married to a country, he is married to a woman and has to be with her.
While on stage Evgeny Mironov turns from a young man into an old Gorbachev (putting on a bald cap to emulate aging Gorbachev on stage), his manner of speaking also changes, Mironov successfully imitates Gorbachev's famous laugh. Chulpan Khamatova (as Raisa Gorbacheva) changes clothes on stage as well: one time you can see her in a wedding dress when she got married, then in a working uniform, her makeup changes on stage, she adds wrinkles, gray hair to look older.
In general, Gorbachev's character remains the most controversial, and the director creates a certain void on stage: from time to time it seems that only Mikhail and Raisa exist, no one and nothing can separate them. Even harsh reality and political perturbations in Soviet Union are interpreted ironically. Only the terrible diagnosis of Gorbachev's wife adds a tragic touch to the performance, besides that, no other changes affect the relationship between two people. They live for each other, despite of all tribulations of everyday life.
This is a gripping production, the director considers Gorbachev a romantic believer having so many plans for changing the country.. At the same time Almis Hermanis did not focus on political debates and discussions, instead he shows the relationship between two people. Gorbachev's life changes through the rehearsal process that audience sees on stage: actors are getting old and become a part of history. This production has become one of the most anticipated performances of the season, not only because Gorbachev's persona still draws huge interest in Russia, but also because of the emotional way of showing the characters. In "Gorbachev" you can find love and tenderness, despite the difficulties and challenges of the epoch.

Ani Arutiunian


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