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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Season of Dostoevsky, Magic, and Cabaret

The traditional opening of the theater season in September has been increasingly held off until October in recent years. And with nearly half of Moscow's venues remaining dark until next month, this year is no exception. But it is a sign of the city's theatrical activity and diversity that even at half speed, Moscow stages still have plenty to offer.


Now, for instance, is a good time to catch up on a couple of last season's most interesting shows. The Mossoviet Theater is showing its delightfully campy version of Moliere's "School for Wives," while the Theater Na Maloi Bronnoi has already opened its season with "What A Lovely Sight," an outlandish and affectionate parody of the clich?s of Soviet life. Already in repertory at the Maly Theater is last season's powerful "Tsar Boris," starring Vasily Bochkaryov in the title role.


As has become customary, the Gogol Theater took the lead in offering the first premiere of the new season. This year the playhouse near the Kursk train station opened with a rare production of "The Red Devil Battery Sign," a late and little-known work by Tennessee Williams. It is next being performed Sept. 13 and 17.


At the Hermitage Theater, artistic director Mikhail Levitin launched his season doing what he does best -- a play from the school of the Russian absurd. The new production, with upcoming performances scheduled for Sept. 10, 14, 16, 18 and 22, is Alexander Vvedensky's "God May Be All Around," subtitled "Variations on the Themes of Love and Death." Do not be fooled by the solemnity of the title: The combination of a whimsical director with an unorthodox poet and playwright guarantees there will be no shortage of tomfoolery.


Gennady Abramov's chic Class of Expressive Plastic Movement, located in the basement at 20 Ulitsa Vorovskogo, adds an interpretation of several Eugene Ionesco plays to its growing repertoire of evocative performances. Entitled "Nonsense," the work equally challenges the canons of dance and drama. The actors possess the inventiveness and extraordinary agility to pull the production off, leaving no doubt as to why this unique group's fame is spreading throughout the world and garnering praise from such luminaries as Pina Bausch.


Other September premieres include Alexander Ostrovsky's "A Lively Spot" at the Russian Army Theater; "Stepanchikovo," based on a novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky, at the Yermolova International Theater Center; and Alfred de Musset's "Love Is Not to be Trifled With" at the Mossoviet Theater.


Things will really hit stride when the calendar turns to October, with several major productions opening almost simultaneously.


Thanks to a few sensational public dress rehearsals in July, the Tabakov Theater's production of Oleg Antonov's imaginative new play about four clowns, "Deadly Number," will probably head the list. The show's touching simplicity, its thrilling use of magic tricks, its spectacular lighting and stirring music have some already giving it the lock on the title of season's best.


Hot on the heels of "Deadly Number" will come two new entries at the Theater Yunogo Zritelya. Genrietta Yanovskaya will follow up last year's acclaimed production of "Ivanov and Others" with her rendition of Jacques Offenbach's spirited operetta, "Bluebeard," while the renowned director Kama Ginkas will offer up "Katerina Ivanovna," the latest in his ongoing series of Dostoevsky adaptations.


Since his last Moscow production almost four years ago, Ginkas has spent a good deal of time honing his craft and increasing his considerable reputation by working and teaching in Europe. Look for "Katerina Ivanovna" to be one of the year's most powerful shows.


On a lighter note, the Bat Cabaret will offer its tribute to the cabaret genre with "100 Years of Cabaret." Written and directed by Grigory Gurvich, Moscow's wizard of wit, there is every reason to expect this show to be a delight.


Finally, the Chekhov Art Theater has lined up two new shows for October: "Boris Godunov," the verse tragedy by Alexander Pushkin, and "Misha's Party," a play about the 1991 coup written jointly by the Russian Alexander Gelman and the American Richard Nelson.