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Grim but rewarding journey through Stalinist moral minefield

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					                                                             Australian
                                                             19/02/2010
                                                             Page: 15                                                        Page 1 of 2
                                                             By: Virtorial Laurie
                                                             Section: Arts & Entertainment
                                                             Region: Australia Circulation: 131246
                                                             Type: Australian National
                                                             Size: 323.00 sq.cms
                                                             Frequency: MTWTF



                      Grim but rewarding journey
                      through Stalinist moral minefield
                      THEATRE                                 demands the betrayal of others,           Totalitarian regimes differ little
                      Life and Fate                           the filling of gulags and contempt     in the fear they inspire, and we wit-
                      Maly Drama Theatre. His                 towards Jews.                          ness paranoia in all its disguises:
                      Majesty's Theatre, Perth,                  Director Lev Dodin (who ap-         whispered confessions in the
                      February 17.                            peared with his actors on opening      shower, cathartic love-making,
                                                              night) adapted Vasily Grossman's       and the telltale tics of a fidgeting
                                                              epic World War II novel into a         physicist, who obsessively moves
                                                              play with a wide sweep of history,     his pen from inside his coat pocket,
                      OPENING night patrons seemed            27 characters and wordy medi-          to lapel, and back again, unable to
                      to emerge from Life and Fate, the       tations (subtitled in English) on      stop.
                      centrepiece of the Perth Interna-       life and fate, as one might expect       Life and Fate is almost unrelen-
                      tional Arts Festival's theatre pro-     from one of the world's great direc-   tingly bleak except, ironically, in
                      gram, in one of two mindsets: feel-     tors of Russian classics.              its exposition of human failings.
                      ing unaccountably unmoved by               Dodin demands concentration.           A doomed Shtrum, pricked by
                      the drama, or mute with admir-          but rewards with perfect clarity       his mother's memory to resist the
                      ation.                                  around a central theme: if even        regime, suddenly receives a ter-
                         Both camps would agree that          one ghetto exists, all who live in     rifying telephone call from Stalin
                      Maly Drama Theatre's 3'/2 hour          the world are in a ghetto.             himself, and the words: "I wish you
                      play is a meaty work performed             On stage, the incongruous but       success in your work." Shtrum's
                      with seamless stagecraft, an al-        brilliant dramatic device of           crazed relief is p alp able and utterly
                      most religious concentration by         infiltrating death-camp inmates        understandable, even though his
                      the large Russian-speaking cast,        into the Shtrum household              capitulation causes everyone
                      and a driving sense of purpose that     huddling on the bed or lining up       around him to avert their eyes.
                      lasted all the way to the final cur-    before the kitchen dresser for food       Writer Grossman drew deeply
                      tain call.                                 illustrated that essential con-     on his on remarkable life to cre-
                         For those of us who relished the     nectedness.                            ate his central character; the KGB
                      spectacle, it pulsated with the un-       The chaotic staging has an           even confiscated the typewriter
                      bearable anxiety felt by those who      apocalyptic feel; through its debris   ribbons he used to write his critical
                      lived through the 20th century's        steps a tiny woman (Tatiana She-       novel, and it was smuggled out to
                      cruellest epoch.                        stakova), Shtrum's mother and a        the west and published in 1980.
                        The play's central character,         Holocaust victim, whose harrow-           Grim it may be, but Li fe an d Fate
                      Jewish physicist Viktor Shtrum          ing narrative throughout the play      deserves a huge audience.
                      (Sergey Kuryshev), must tread a         acts as her son's conscience.                           VICTORIA LAURIE
                      path through the moral minefield           There are many superbly con-
                      of Stalinist Russia, where loyalty      trived touches, such as the re-        Tickets: $59.50. Bookings:
                      to the party and securing the           peated strains of Schubert's Seren-    1800 193 300. Until February 23.
                      survival of one's wife and child        ade sung by inmates of both fascist
                                                              and socialist prisons.




Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licenced copy                                                                                                   Ref: 00064907126
                                                      Australian
                                                      19/02/2010
                                                      Page: 15                                               Page 2 of 2
                                                      By: Virtorial Laurie
                                                      Section: Arts & Entertainment
                                                      Region: Australia Circulation: 131246
                                                      Type: Australian National
                                                      Size: 323.00 sq.cms




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                                                      Frequency: MTWTF

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                      Director Lev Dodin has adapted Vasily Grossman's novel into a play with a wide sweep of history




Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licenced copy                                                                               Ref: 00064907126

				
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