Идеальный муж. Комедия
Director: Konstantin Bogomolov
Writer: Konstantin Bogomolov
Based on: Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Anton Chekhov‘s Three Sisters, Johann Wolfgang Goethe‘s Faust and William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet
Cast: Nadezhda Borisova, Andrei Burkovsky, Rosa Khairullina, Svetlana Kolpakova, Alexei Kravchenko, Maxim Matveev, Igor Mirkurbanov, Darya Moros, Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko, Yana Osipova, Artyom Panchik, Vladimir Panchik, Aleksandr Semchev, Marina Sudina, Pavel Chinarev, Sergei Chonishvili, Pavel Vashchilin
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 27.5.2016
Lord (Igor Mirkurbanov) is a famous Russian singer, about to be honored for his life’s work in the Kremlin. The prize is delivered by his friend Robert (Alexei Kravchenko) who is the Minister for Rubber Goods. But their partying finds a quick end when they are contacted by Cheavley, the main rival of Robert’s wife Gertrude. Cheavley has video evidence that Lord and Robert are actually lovers and threatens to expose them. In the world of Russian politics, intrigue and bigotry that cannot stand.
An Ideal Husband is a sometimes haphazard but always enthusiastic amalgamation of various texts that are full of political barbs, irony and sarcasm. While it was a bit long and seeing it in Vienna made it feel a little diluted, I did enjoy most of it.
The works of Oscar Wilde have long been banned in Russia, but that ban was lifted and Bogomolov used his chance, making the homoerotic subtext into outright text and working in other plays and texts as well. That way he created a play that is under constant threat of censorship, but so successful that they actually let him be. Now, I don’t know much about Russian politics, so I probably didn’t get all that a Russian audience would get, though the digs at corruption and amorality in the play are pretty obvious.
In any case, for me it was all a bit much. The play is almost four hours long (including two breaks) and in fact, I was the only person in my group who stayed for the last third as well. As much as I enjoyed the short interludes from other plays, I think I could have done without the Dorian Gray bit – and that took basically all of the middle third. That being said, there was always more than enough going on to draw me back into the play after the lengthier bits.
And it was outright hilarious for many parts. It uses music to great effect (for example when we get a flashback of how Lord and Robert met, with a bathtub ballet set to Summertime Sadness) and also works with two video screens where we get to see the most hilarious music videos and memories of Lord’s. It also features a Russian pun that was so simple, even I understood it and yet it had me laughing out loud. (A: [pointing at art] Is this a Leonardo? / B: Da. Vinci.)
So while I do wish that the play had been shorter, its anarchistic energy was strong enough to keep things moving and to definitely make it a fascinating experience, even if the political impact is probably dialed down outside of Russia.