The Brothers Karamazov

Horror, the anticipation of blood and crime, coupled with a mystical mood is in the air from the first minutes of the play. The riot of feelings and emotions envelops everyone who is in the audience: both the viewer and the actor himself. From them you can not escape into the corridor or buffet, you can not hide under the armchair or behind the back of your neighbor. They are going to overtake everyone.

As the director Maxim Sokolov noted: “It is impossible to prepare for Dostoevsky“. You just need to try to feel it by reading books or watching performances. To my grief, that is exactly it, not regret or sadness, I know  the great Russian writer very little: “Crime and Punishment” and “Poor Folk” were read during school days, as well as “The Idiot” that embarrassed me several years ago. Every time Dostoevsky, considered one of the best writers able to reveal the mysterious Russian soul, leaves me in confusion and uncertainty. I constantly feel some kind of understatement, something is missing for me in his works. And it’s not about the simplicity of the characters, the plot or the happy ending.

After watching “The Brothers Karamazov” (which I want to read very badly for the last few years after “The Idiot” but because of the huge lists of educational and professional literature, there is no time and energy left for it), I finally realized what I was missing, what I so long sought in Dostoevsky as a writer. I did not have enough preparation. Yes, I agree with Maxim Sokolov that Dostoevsky is doing with the characters what he wants — you never know what to expect. Still, you can prepare yourself somehow, for example by trying to determine for yourself the concept of “Russian soul” — in everyday life, we do not even think about this very inalienable reality for us, which no other people in the world have.

For me, the “Russian soul” does not seem to be one thing — its versatility can not be described even with a couple of epithets. “Russian soul” is confusion, savagery, superstition, total self-giving, sacrifice, pride, insanity, extreme emotionalism, sensitivity, charisma, generosity, cunning, “freebie” and excessive self-interest. It hesitates between faith and atheism, between the desire to earn and share with the needy, between love and hatred, life and death.

Absolutely all the features of Russian character are embodied in the characters of the play “The Brothers Karamazov” staged at the Youth Theater. One character is not like the other, of course; but they are all united by “Russian soul”, through which you perceive them not as far from each other as people, but as one family, and even more —  a whole within which a conflict arose.

It seems that it is impossible to fit all the elements in one: complementing each other, they contradict themselves. Nevertheless, Dostoevsky succeeds in describing it in the novel, and Sokolov and the actors are shown on the stage, which would still light up just a little bit from the accumulated energy. It is so much that the soul turns and tears into small pieces, and applause also tears off the head: either in oblivion, or in ecstasy, tears are flowing from the eyes by themselves. At first, slowly, just a couple of drops, but the more you realize and accept the Russianness of your soul, the more tears flowing down your cheeks.

And actors are crying as well.

Photography: Ekaterina Chashchina

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