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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MARQUEE: New Theater Is Promising

Another new theater has appeared on Moscow's map and, like the Playwright and Director Center which opened in December, it gives reason to think good thoughts about the future. The Theater of Emotional Drama, located near the Volgogradsky Prospekt metro, is the brainchild of Leonid Krasnov. It officially opened six months ago, but last week's premiere of "Angels," a free adaptation of Tennessee Williams' one-act plays "I Can't Imagine Tomorrow" and "Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen," is its first nonchildren's production and can be considered the theater's real starting point.

The short, hour-long show is artistically ambitious, mixing drama and ballet (choreographed by Irina Gavrilina) and taking the liberty of boldly rewriting Williams. Here we are confronted with a woman in a wheelchair who may or may not have been a ballerina, and her male friend who struggles to speak through a stutter. Aside from the obvious challenges these people face, their main trial is to break through their own inabilities to open up to one another.

I was struck most of all by the strong acting. Seldom do I see such focus, confidence and concentrated energy even among better-known performers at more prestigious venues.

As the wheelchair-bound She, Yelena Gromova begins the performance as a remarkably agile ballerina, dancing the finale of Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet." It is, perhaps, the young woman's memory of the past or her visualization of her dreams. Throughout the show, Romeo (Sergei Alexandrov) and another Juliet (Gavrilina) return for short scenes, danced surprisingly well in a dramatic production. But it is Gromova's interpretation of a woman struggling to communicate with the world - as well as herself - that is so convincing. Her highly physical presence, even in the confines of a wheelchair, complements well her ability to reveal her character psychologically.

As He, her partner, Vitaly Chetkov is a touching, gentle eccentric. Easily hurt and easily frightened, it seems as if a breeze could bruise him. As the antipode of Gromova's strong-willed She, Chetkov splendidly rounds out this well-matched pair.

Krasnov's attractive set - a white box with a bare minimum of red props - sets the tone of clarity and directness that the production strives for. "Angels" is an admirable beginning for the new Theater of Emotional Drama.

For information, call 384-4888 or 277-0413.

- John Freedman