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Performance working as accurately as a Swiss watch

Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre premieres Night Before Christmas ‘theatrical fantasy’, staged by Artistic Leader Nikolay Pinigin

By Vasily Petrovksy

Winter has come, bringing romantic New Year holidays. As is traditional, our theatres are rehearsing well in advance.

Mr. Pinigin has managed to lighten Gogol’s play, without using excessive psychology or mysticism. The costumes are beautiful and the music inspirational and mischievous, composed by Andrey Zubrich. A devil rockets into the sky on a stove and those in disguise dance while true Ukrainian Kolyady songs are performed and Zaporozhye Cossacks relax on the roof of an imperial palace. New Year amusement reigns as actors play the clown, with touches of farce, sitting in woven baskets which suddenly overturn, as if in a Chaplin comedy.

Artem Borodich plays blacksmith Vakula enchantingly, like a handsome model from the cover of Men’s Health. He has no idea of the language of love but is ready to sacrifice all for the sake of beauty Oksana. Two young primas from the Kupala Theatre — Anna Khitrik and Svetlana Zelenkovskaya — play the role of Oksana in turn. Khitrik’s Oksana is flirtatious and unpredictable, aware of her beauty yet without conceit. She yearns for love. The devil, played by Pavel Kharlanchuk, is a trickster and deceiver with an engaging personality; we cannot help but love him, as he speaks directly to the audience, as he capers about.

The playful style and mocking chaos of the Kupala Theatre has a clear inner structure — as perfect as the mechanism of a Swiss watch. Each small screw — and actor — has its part to play.

As if in a children’s game, the action stops almost at the peak of our amusement, with Vakula presenting Oksana with festive boots. She gives him her heart and all the happy characters take a bow to the audience. Fairy tales, especially at Christmas, should always end well.

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