By Mikhail Bulgakov
Reviewer: Jane PenistanBlack Snow is partly autobiographical. The play is an English adaptation of the author's novel, Teatralny Roman. Bulgakov's work was banned from publication in Soviet Russia during much of his lifetime, though he worked at the Moscow Arts Theatre and was an associate of Stanislavsky. This play is a satire on the political and artistic trauma an author suffers during the writing and "workshopping" of a new play.
Directed by Irina Trouchenko, a graduate of the St Petersburg University of Art and Culture, the scenery and costumes are stark black and white with occasional flashes of scarlet. Black cubes are cleverly built into a variety of furniture as occasion demands, set against a white backdrop. The choreography is angular and the dancers well drilled, again echoing the 1930's fashion for cubism. They perform to jazz idiom music. The whole production is permeated with a sense of hurry and unrest.
As Sergei Maxudov, Darren Boquist displays all the emotions of a harassed playwright. The only member of the cast not dressed in strict black and white, he wears a grey suit, so that he is always noticeable in the crowd, but he is not of it. His is a very well sustained performance. Gil Hayward is a self-assured, overbearing and self-important Ivan Vasilievich, a biting caricature of Stanislavsky. Other members of the cast play multiple small roles, and several of them are also the precisely moving corps of dancers.
There is plenty of energy and life in this production. The wit, humour and satire are all enjoyed by the cast and consequently by the audience. This unusual play, well directed and performed by United Players presents an opportunity to experience something a little different.
Black Snow runs Thursday through Sunday at 20.00 15 November - 8 December 2002 at Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery Street. Tickets $10-$15 at the door or through 604.224.8007 or visit www.unitedplayers.com for information and reservations.
© 2002, Jane Penistan