The Pushkin theater is continuing to experiment with its repertoire, which is becoming ever more obvious from the odd names of the plays and new directors that can be seen on its posters and advertisements. The recent premiere of the play "Korova" (The Cow), written and directed by Nadezhda Ptushkina, who in her own way is the apotheosis of experimentalism, can be said to be unusual, if nothing else.
At the end of the performance, you involuntarily recall how the great actress, Alisa Koonen, once cursed the theater and how, ever since, things have not gone well for the company. Of one thing one can be sure: The great primadonna could not have foreseen the consequences or realized that the curse would stick so fast.
Ptushkina, to judge from what has been happening, has for a long time considered herself a classic artist for whom everything is permitted, including self-quotation. The subject matter of The Cow is not simply banal it is banal even for Ptushkina. A sweet and infantile, but supremely intelligent, 50-year-old woman, Katerina (Nina Popova), suddenly finds herself without a husband he has left her for his young mistress. The jilted wife finds a cow freezing to death under the wheels of his car and takes it home. The subsequent upheaval then gets bogged down in focusing on the animal. The cow itself, in fact, does not appear on stage until the finale. However, they talk about it so much and with such anguish with tears in their eyes and with such tenderness that, even against one's will, one starts to believe in its existence. (That's the power of art for you!)
In addition to the main heroine, a veritable potpourri of characters appear on the stage, of exactly the sort you would expect in a second-rate comedy. There's Katerina's middle-aged mother, Alexandra (Nina Marushina); her alcoholic spouse (Yury Rumyantsev); their neighbors; unexpected guests and so on. For all of three hours they run hither and thither, shouting and waving their arms and clarifying the relationships, even though the relationships are neither prescribed nor established, with the result that they look both absurd and far-fetched. But then everything in the play is false: feelings, intonation and characters. Even the notorious cow turns out to be no more than a cardboard cut-out. All that's left are heroes shedding make-believe tears and an audience suffering from deep bewilderment.
The next performance is on May 12
THE PUSHKIN THEATER
23 Tverskoi Blvd.