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Baryshnikov in The Old Woman


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Misha and Willem Dafoe at the Manchester International Festival last night premiered in a new theatre adaptation of a novella by absurdist Russian writer Daniil Kharms, directed by the famous Robert Wilson. Whilst not a ballet it does include dance, for Dafoe as well as Baryshnikov, in a vaudevillian approach that is not unlike Waiting for Godot as it is for two men who are made up to look like clowns, reflecting on life but more frequently death. Apart from some dance there is much movement, mime, speech (both English and Russian for Misha) and other sounds. The production takes a very different form from traditional ballet or drama being episodic and involving much repetition and many surreal touches, including their wigs. There is excellent lighting and stage direction, helping to move on the action, and varied music, some original, some classical such as the famous Liggeti piece, and even Waltzing Matilda. There is humour yet an underlying sinister vibe ( Kharms came from a political revolutionary background and suffered in Soviet Russia once the arts avant garde was outlawed and persecuted). Both Misha and Dafoe are consummate performers, commanding the stage, moving and dancing flexibly, with a wonderful sense of timing and playing off and to each other like great dance partners.

 

The production runs in Manchester only until 7 July. It will presumably be shown in Paris, Spoleto and Antwerp as organisations from those towns have co-commissioned it; but it would be an excellent production for Sadler's Wells, if they could afford it.

 

(As it stars Baryshnikov I am posting it in the Performances  thread but an administrator may feel it would be more appropriate in a different place and that it should be moved ).

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