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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chekhov Fest Back on Track

After a small lull, the 2nd Chekhov International Theater Festival is again going full guns. Several top-notch attractions play this week, led by England's Volcano Theater with "L.O.V.E.," a reportedly "hair-raisingly violent and uninhibitedly bisexual" rendition of Shakespeare's sonnets (Tuesday to May 23 at the Pushkin Theater), and Tbilisi's fabulous Rustaveli Theater with a relentless "Macbeth" (Wednesday at the Vakhtangov Theater). The latter show, staged by Robert Sturua, brings back to Moscow Zaza Papuashvili (Macbeth) and Nino Kasradze (Lady Macbeth), the brilliant acting duo which contributed so much to making the Rustaveli's 1994 summer tour such a smash success.

Another highlight is Thursday night's performance by the Voronezh Drama Theater under the direction of Anatoly Ivanov, one of Russia's most respected directors from the provinces. The single performance of "Pardon Me, My Snow-White Angel" plays at the Mayakovsky Theater. An adaptation of Anton Chekhov's first full-length play, "Fatherlessness," it reflects the detail, atmosphere and psychological depth that characterizes all of Ivanov's work.

Three other one-night stands follow. Shakespeare's "King Lear" by the National Drama Theater from Baku, Azerbaijan, plays Friday at the Pushkin Theater. The Saratov Drama Theater plays Chekhov's "The Seagull" at the Taganka Theater New Stage on Sunday, while on Monday at the Chekhov Art Theater New Stage, the Tolstoy Theater from Lipetsk performs "Visit to a Patient in Ward 16." This contemporary play by the famous film director Marlen Khutsiev and his son Igor Khutsiev takes a look at a meeting between Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov.

The performances of "L.O.V.E.," in English, mark the first trip to Russia by director Nigel Charnock, of the DV8 Physical Theater, and the feisty Volcano troupe. Originally staged in 1992, the so-called "physical theater/dance piece" has traveled all over Europe, garnering a daunting quantity of visceral responses. A Presbyterian minister in Ireland lambasted it as "an insult and an intrusion into the deeply held morality of the province," while the Guardian writes admiringly of an actress threatening to castrate the men: "Groin squirming stuff," the critic wrote, "but definitely a treat for those who like their theater fast and physical."