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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Marriage Finally Ends

The farewell performance of Anatoly Efros' historical production of Gogol's "The Marriage" took place at the Theater Na Maloi Bronnoi last week. It was performed 480 times between March 14, 1975, and Oct. 24, 1996. Four actors, Maria Andriyanova, Antonina Dmitriyeva, Lev Durov and Kirill Glazunov, played in every show of the 21-year run.

"The Marriage" was one of the most beloved and influential of the many great shows Efros created from the early 1950s until his death in 1987. Its dark, tense anxiety lurking beneath the crackling humor on the surface provided a completely new approach to the classic play.

Echoes of and direct responses to Efros' innovations can clearly be seen in the numerous unusual interpretations of "The Marriage" in the 1990s. Directors as divergent in style as Yury Pogrebnichko, Vladimir Mirzoyev and Sergei Artsibashev have all leaned on Efros to one degree or another.

As final performances of long-running shows go, this one was good enough to be called inspired. Durov was brilliant, as always, as one of the wildly comic, hard-luck suitors, while Olga Sirina was especially touching as the potential bride, a role originally played by Efros' favorite actress, Olga Yakovleva.

Only a handful of Efros productions continue to run in Moscow. They include "Tartuffe" at the Chekhov Art Theater, "Don Juan" at the Theater Na Maloi Bronnoi, and a 1993 reconstruction of "Napoleon I" at the Mayakovsky Theater, originally staged in 1983 at the Theater Na Maloi Bronnoi.


"Why Didn't I Die in My Sleep Before the Wedding?" -- aside from having nothing to do whatsoever with "The Marriage" -- is the newest outing from actress/director Yelena Saleikova at the Theater Na Krasnoi Presne. It is a tongue-in-cheek, operetta-like show which melds into one the stories of Carlo Goldoni's play, "The Servant of Two Masters," and Gaetano Donizetti's opera, "Rita."

As she did in an earlier musical adaptation of "The Three Musketeers," Saleikova has created an assertively naive, miniature fairytale. And she herself, in the role of Rita, is the cast member who best handles the dead-pan manner saturated with puns and physical humor.