By Veniamin Petrov
The performance is in three parts: a ballet, an opera and a comedy. It reconstructs a typical theatrical evening at Nesvizh Castle, enabling audiences to see how the Radziwills would have been entertained centuries ago. One might worry that the reproduction would be so slavish to detail that content might be compromised, lacking delicate nuances; on the contrary, within its genre, the performance appears quite post-modernistic. Masks evoke each character — a fool, villain, thief or beauty — with emotions expressed through gesture and movement.
The Abduction of Europe is a humorous play by the founder of domestic professional theatre, filled with sarcasm and a sense of the grotesque. Some ‘traditionalists’ may not appreciate the new interpretation but its authors can easily argue for the genuine nature of their staging, recreating 18th century Nesvizh entertainment.
The first part of the show appears idyllic, featuring students of the Belarusian State Choreography College; some even forget to smile while dancing, taking their job so seriously. However, the historical truth is fully met and the age of the performers well corresponds to the age of the actual characters. The second part of the performance is a special success, with the comic opera representing the whole ‘Nesvizh harlequinade’.
The project has enabled its director and artistes to express their fantasies. Olga Matskevich’s costumes look as if they are separate characters with lives of their own, being full of imagination and spirit. In turn, Andrey Zubrich’s score sounds as if it was extracted from 18th century archives; no doubt, he reveals the age wonderfully, his music being full of lyricism and naivety, while meeting the emotional needs of the play.
The Abduction of Europe, or Ursula Radziwill’s Theatre is to be staged at the restored Nesvizh Castle and will, no doubt, be adapted. The complex show, intermixing its genres and styles, will keep its spirit of ‘home entertainment’ however, feeling like a game and an improvisation. Unlike another Nesvizh theatre revival — The Black Lady of Nesvizh — there is no mystery; rather, fanfares and kettle-drums are heard. It’s a true pleasure to follow this theatrical evolution, while learning more about our history.