Friday, February 27, 2009

Thoughts on “The Idiot”

It was an impressive play, and here are my impressions:

I felt the condensed plot has too many ellipses – how could they omit the time Myschkin and Nastasia spent together in the country? There were also too many stories narrated by the characters instead of dramatized, specially at the beginning, when playing them out would be even more important. As a result, some character developments became “bumpy”, like the sudden loyalty between Myschkin and Rogozhin after they exchange the crosses, and even the gestures of love/sacrifice between Mischkin, Nastasia and Aglaida. Lebedev the gossipmonger and Lebedev the theologian struck me as two different characters altogether.

Still it had a pretty good flow – the plot wasn’t difficult to follow, despite the many characters. Those brick-sized Russian novels are a pain to follow even in the paper, let alone in performance. It’s no small feat.

The set was too bare. It looked like an empty medieval monastery. A carpet would have breathed more life into it. Likewise, I found the costumes too plain and unimposing for Russian nobility, especially in San Petersburg, Russia’s center of French influence.

The expressionistic devices worked perfectly: the echoes were seamless, and the procession of people in Myschkin’s mind was his most dramatic moment, in my opinion.

Lizaveta’s performance was the most engaging aspect of the play: it made her character shine brighter than the protagonists. For the brief time he appeared, Afanasy also made a strong impression.

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