"Life is a disease and death begins
Every heartbeat, is a moment of dying -
a little shove towards the end. "
"The performance is almost four hours long", warn strict controllers at the entrance to the National Drama Theatre named after I. Franco. To some viewers this remark is a little alarming; to others - theatre lovers - causes an ironic smile. And it also delights, which means a good production. My "piggy bank" of favorite performances, along with such as "Glory to Heroes", "Stalkers" on Kiev stage, was enriched with a new work of "Frankovians" - "Three Comrades" based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque. And four hours fly by like one instant, which you want to repeat.
It is important that three Donetsk actors appear in this performance - "Frankovians" - Elena Khokhlatkina, Andrei Romaniy and Lyubov Dobronozhenko play together.
Perhaps, Remarque is one of the few German writers, whose works can be read to ecstasy. And I totally disagree with the statement that he is depressing, as some believe. Moreover, after such a heartfelt performance directed by Yuri Odinokiy. Despite the tragedy of being, it is still a VERY LIGHT performance. Humane and modern. About love, frozen in eternity.
The performance begins even before the curtain opens - on the edge of the proscenium an array of shoes is neatly arranged. It gives you the creeps. And you immediately remember a monument in Budapest - "Shoes on the banks of the Danube." On the Franko stage, the "lonely" pairs of shoes are a symbol of the dear and loved ones gone forever into eternity.
The scenography is laconic: three cars hanging over the stage, mobile "interiors" of a removable room, a car workshop and a bar, a theater. And all are on a black background. In the gleams of the playing light there is a life illuminated by outbursts of love and friendship. Eternity, which envelops the gray car workshop of three comrades in a gray haze - a modest but cozy place with the aroma of rum.
The play emanates light through the prism of the realities of the post-war years. Three comrades performed by Yevgeny Nishchuk, Andrei Romani and Alexander Pecheritsa are a true trio of friendship. Genuine. Without meanness and betrayal. Without pathos. But as strong as a burning rum.
Burned by the war - all three try to taste the taste of life. A life that flies at furious speed, like their Carl. Life, where the main thing is love, and the rest is just garbage and trash. It is the theme of love, doomed, the director accents in the play - in the relationship between Patricia Holman and Robert Lokamp.
Pat and Robbie embody the harmony of two principles - rational and emotional. Angelica Savchenko creates the image of her character as a romantic and gentle nature with impeccable taste, embodying an unearthly aristocracy in the good sense of the word. External elegance organically combines with the inner strength of the character of the heroine. Most of all, Patricia is in love with life, from which she expects reciprocity. Sometimes she flirts with the very fate. And meets her in the form of Robert Lokamp. It is Pat who first calls him Roby the child, thereby pointing to his infantile nature. He impulsive and sincere. Despite his 33-year-old age, he is a boy in his soul. And this childish spontaneity and naivety strengthen the belief in a beautiful feeling. Indicative in this sense is the episode, where Robert has flare-up of jealousy for Pat, and she with understanding and a gentle flair of irony "repays" ridiculous jealousy with a kiss.
And if at the beginning of the play on his own birthday Robert shows obvious indifference to everything, then after meeting Pat, the hero is inspired by new feelings. Just like trees blossom in spring after "winter sleep". In the play, episodes involving Pat and Robert sometimes "smell" of disturbing mysticism which is amplified by music. And it's no coincidence that Pat on their first date appears, like a "ghost", from the darkness of the conditional streets of Berlin.
In the play, Robert and Patricia sometimes resemble two birds sitting on different branches, but ready to fly to each other at the first opportunity. And it seems that their joint "flight" can last forever, despite the rain or snow. But time is ruthless. It invisibly dominates all Remarque’s characters . And the dance in the rain of the two doomed lovers is like a violent struggle between life and death. In fact, it's a struggle for the fading time.
And the closer the final of the play, the more distinctly Robert-Nishchuk delineates this dramatic note. " It seems as if the world had been created by a madman who could think of nothing better to do with the marvellous variety of life that he created but to annihilate it again," says Robert Lokamp.
It is the tragedy that can be understood only from own life experience. Personal drama intersects with what is happening on the stage. A fateful coincidence of circumstances: while the rehearsals of the "Three Comrades" were taking place, the director lost his mother, actor Yevgeny Nishchuk - his wife.
Time in the play seems to be flirting with the characters. On the one hand, it forces them to make the same coveted step towards their happiness. On the other hand, it throws them on the other side of life. Forever. And who knows the value of every moment of this life better than artist Ferdinand (Oleg Stalchuk)? He is the one who paints portraits of those who left for another world and knows the value of every moment of this life. He is a kind of prototype of the impermanence of existence. " Life is colorful but not perfect." His philosophical monologues-reflections addressed to comrades are aphoristic. They sound like father's instructions - without reproach, but with love and sincerity.
"Moment that we feel, but never have. Time is this infernal machine that ticks and ticks, that goes on ticking and that nothing can stop ticking. You can stay an avalanche, a landslide - but not this”.
And everyone has to smooth out the imperfection of this life with their own colors. For example, for a former soldier Valentine (Dmitry Zavadsky), it's a tavern where he spends most of his time. Not needing pity and sympathy, he burns his life, because he does not know what to do with this life after he became a cripple in the war. And he is just " happy to live ", and he drinks smiling another glass. There are no goals in life, but you can guess by the look of his eyes humility and longing for the former life.
Who are they - the three friends? Heroes of our time or mad romantics of the "lost generation"? In part, they are both. The war crossed their lives, leaving a scar in their souls. The military past reminds of itself in peacetime. While everyone is running around enjoying the salute, Robbie, by habit, falls onto the ground. The evidence of his military past is also the medals for military merit. Robert either furtively hides them by the edge of the jacket, or on the contrary, wears them with pride. Romance covered with gunpowder of war reveals their best qualities: decency, honesty, responsiveness, and good nature. Comrades, who can both sneer at each other, joke, but at the same time preserving and showing respect and good nature.
"The time of the great dreams is over," says Robert as a representative of that most lost generation. Broken dreams, lost ideals. History repeats itself only shifting the emphasis. Is there absence of any vector in life, where to go and what to strive for? The theme of the lost generation is consonant with our reality. Returning from the ATO, as the war in the Donbass is called, the soldiers are people who cannot always and everywhere adapt to peaceful life. Life, where you do not fall onto the ground from fireworks. Life, which fills their being with meaning. They returned, but crippled by the war morally and psychologically. Muffling their pain with a glass-another, they try to feel such desired FREEDOM. Because "freedom is life."
To drink rum, drowning the pain of loss, to feel that desired freedom from the world, from human suffering and even from yourself. The war has remained in the past only in the time dimension. But not in consciousness. For example, in this sense, the image of the former pilot Otto Kester, who killed an unarmed young soldier in the war, is very revealing. And until now this act is oppressing his soul, like a wound with "aching" pain. Otto waits for an opportunity to restore justice - in his mind, in his soul. "He did nothing bad. If I do not finish this bastard who killed our Hotfird, the whole story of the Englishman would have been a terrible crime", says discerning Otto, a clear accent on the fact that it is the" I-Otto "who must kill the killer of his comrade personally to relieve this pressing "stone" from the soul. The recognition of one's guilt intensifies the thirst for justice - uncompromising and doomed.
Andrei Romaniy creates the image of Otto not only as of a reliable friend who always thinks two steps ahead. Possessed by the idea of a revenge for Lenz's death, he immediately "switches on" a fighter in himself, tough, peremptorily being fearsome. He is one of the few actors in this play who in reality knows what war is, because in his time he left Donetsk shaken by battles. And on the stage, Otto-Romaniy is a balanced and contemplative nature, but at the same time he embodies the tragedy of wartime. The unquenchable thirst for justice remains unclaimed.
Naughty Gottfried Lenz in Alexander Pecheritsa's performance can be described as a cheerful merry fellow. This is a kind and easy-going fellow. The winning appearance of the artist - red-haired, with a charming smile, gives a special "light." The energy of positivism and postwar fun emanate from him, like the rays of the sun. What he would not say about are losses, disappointment, smile does not disappear from his face. It harmoniously combines the ease of perception of life and the uncertainty of life itself.
Life, which is burned cheerfully and fervently in taverns, theaters, is filled with genuine feelings and emotions. Touching and heartfelt Hasse, whose role is played by Vasily Basha, is an example of not only of a caring husband, but of true devotion and unrequited love.
" Man invented the dream of eternity." Eternity, into which the loved ones go. And the dance of widows with chairs, their imaginary partners, literally "finishes" the pain of irreparable loss.
"Live life to the fullest!" - says Ferdinand, who paints portraits of those who left this world . This is a message, a message to us all. And not only to those who survived the war on the front line. But to us, the audience. Here and now. Alas, not everyone will catch up on with their happiness. But the chance to become happy, even for a moment, is given to all. Despite the soul-chilling snow mercilessly covering the hearts of loved ones. Love and take care of your loved ones! Time flies much faster than any car in the world. And four hours that the play lasts is the time spent at the theater. This is also a small life, which allows us to understand that we must always fight for every moment of our existence on earth.
P.S.The performance "is growing", it is gaining strength. I particularly remember the performance on December 29, when the actor's improvisation, the main performers especially, gave the play a mystical and realistic touch; each episode was saturated with an exciting energy emanating from the actors.
P.S.2 The musical design of the performance permeates every cell like an electric current.