The Visit of the Old Lady
Lenkom Theatre, Moscow, Russia
premiere 1 October 2008, Main stage
Tigran Matinyan, Valeria Zhivova, Vladimir Pravdin, Mihail Grigoryev, Alexey Kizenkov, Ivan Leshuk
Maria Mironova / Olessya Zheleznyak / Anna Yakunina, Alexander Lazarev / Andrey Sokolov, Alexander Sirin / Andrey Leonov, Elena Stepanova, Ivan Agapov / Pavel Kapitonov, Gennadiy Kozlov, Vitaliy Borovik / Ivan Leshuk, Inna Pivars, Alexandra Volkova, Dmitriy Gizbrecht / Anatoliy Popov / Alexander Salnik, Sergey Pyotrovskiy, Alexey Skuratov, Sergey Alexandrov, Levan Mshiladze, Villor Kuznecov, Kiril Petrov / Maxim Amelchenko, Marina Korolkova / Anzhelica Koshevaya, Svetlana Ilyuhina, Oleg Knysh, Alexander Karnaushkin, Stepan Abramov, Konstantin Petuhov
One of the most significant playwrights in the world, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, and a play that became a classic. The choice of text to raises problems that, in our modern times, are more acute than ever - justice for money, prostitution (of the heart), unforgettable and unforgiven love, the freedom of women's choice, truckling as a form of social and financial progress. Can one million dollars buy the moral dignity of an entire city? A text about humanity reduced to the scale of a modest provincial market, a satire about implacable mores which make it impossible to distinguish between alleged victims and alleged executioners. A show with an amazingly picturesque staging and dynamic surprises that brilliantly bring the diverse technical possibilities of the Main stage to their effective maximum. The impressive set design inventively recreates a town in order to give the audience a plausible feeling that it is in the middle of the action.
A mix of outrageous comedy and drama, "The Visit of the Old Lady" is a show about guilt, revenge and gluttony. A show built on an inconvenient question: what is the price of our consciousness - loads of money or, maybe, just a few bucks?
A woman in her sixties returns to the town where she spent her childhood years. She is now worth billions of dollars as she succeeded in building a fortune after leaving the place to become a prostitute. An obviously difficult life has brought her to a decision - she would donate some serious money to the town that is having difficulties in return of a murder. She wants her former lover - Alfred, killed. If the townsmen agree to such an act she is willing to donate two equal sums of half a million - one for the municipality and one to be shared among the households.
The people realise how much they need this money and grow to compromise on her condition. Her argument is that years ago, before she moved from the place, she was the losing party in a paternity lawsuit between her and Alfred due to Alfred's paying to false witnesses. The consequence for her was having to leave and falling into a life of forced prostitution.
Of course, for Alfred the times are now tense. He becomes increasingly paranoid of Klara's "condition" and seeks support from the locals. In a conversation with the priest he comes to know that the deal is done and he should be running for his life. This is confirmed by all the expensive goods his townsmen, including his own family, are suddenly permitting themselves to acquire.
Meanwhile Klara has decided to enter into another marriage and uses the ceremony to officially admit that the reason they need those money so bad is that she already bought all the properties there and governed the town to an economic decay - a staging that would secure her the winning position. Alfred grows to accept his faith. What is Klara's deep emotional secret, though?