The Masquerade

Masquerade by Rimas Tuminas, one of the most outstanding Lithuanian directors, could be counted as one of the most successful interpretations ever of this Romantic play by Mikhail Lermontov. In this production of eerie beauty, filled with the sounds of a heady and nostalgic waltz by Aram Khachaturian, and with falling snow in an empty black space, you not only experience our times, but also the cultural heritage of the last century: drama by Brecht and Strehler, films by Fellini, and the flair of Broadway. Rimas Tuminas has revealed his very particular sensation of Romanticism in Masquerade, which is connected with commedia dell’arte. The elements of this genre turn an alluring view into a strange tragicomedy. The Independent noted that Tuminas’ concept unfolds the bitter tragedy of the play, which recalls both Othello and A Winter’s Tale, developing in a wild and turbulent world of snow, waltzing and elegant buffoonery. The magic of this production of Masquerade comes not from the charm of the masked ball; the acting, the direction, the set, all create a feast lasting only a few moments, and a permanent longing for it.

 

The State Small Theatre’s Masquerade has travelled all over the world, from Sweden to Italy, and from South Korea to Mexico, and has received a number of prestigious awards.

 

Reviews:

The première of Rimas Tuminas’ new production at the State Small Theatre of Vilnius, which took place on 27 February 1997, livened up Lithuanian theatrical life. Having chosen a piece of art dear to his heart, belonging to the Romantic era, the director has used it to express the contemporary world of phantasmagorias. The play also entertains the thoughtful spectator, as one thirsting for beauty and humour. A love story, in which a lost bracelet becomes the epicentre, is augmented with all sorts of characters: gamblers, ladies, a baroness, a prince, valets and people who are difficult to characterise. These are people, who are around us every day, are the mediators and saboteurs of innocent love [...] Naturally, Masquerade not only speaks about a masked ball, a geographical place, but also about human relations interwoven with intrigue: anywhere where there are humans, there is also disaster. Man is a naturally masked creature, and we can only imagine what he is capable of hiding under his real mask. The director tears away any duplicity belonging to the characters [...] There are three composers in Masquerade: Faustas Latėnas, Aram Khachaturian, and the sounds emerging from silence. From an emotional point of view, Latėnas doesn't compete with Khachaturian, but after the fortissimo of both follow such sacred minutes, with the jingling of metallic ice-cream cups, which opens up an empty space and stops time.

Daiva Šabasevičienė, Masquerade: Under the Mask: The Freedom of the Soul, Kultūros barai

Masquerade is a triumph of the return of light to the theatre. I think that the public has been waiting for this for a very long time. This is a show where snow pours from above, contrasting its blinding whiteness with the dark backdrop, where the intrigues of the aristocratic characters of the play are woven into the open space, where the rhythm of romantic verse and the incessant theme of a waltz by Khachaturian are heard. All this creates the nostalgic atmosphere of the staging.

J. R. Kowalczyk, A Triumph of Light, Rzeczpospolita

Masquerade from Vilnius is a breathtaking sight. They have renounced almost all scenery, but the space created by Adomas Jacovskis is, you could say, perfect. There is no set, and there are no props, except for a small Classical sculpture, something that reminds you of a sarcophagus, and a big ball of snow, pushed unceasingly by the same character. Incidentally, everything in this play is plunged in snow, which becomes the main element of the play. Tuminas adores scenic effects, but you will never find art for art’s sake in his plays: everything has a reason. The Lithuanian director has put on a play that is simply amazing, charming by its beauty, and it often moves you like the famous waltz by Khachaturian, which is sometimes very loud, and sometimes much quieter ...

J. Wakar, Light in the Shadow of a Snowball and a Wild Waltz, Zycie Warszawy

Tuminas has placed Lermontov somewhere between Gogol and Blok. The St Petersburg of Gogol’s times breaks through in the staging by a crowd full of jokes and intrigues. Sometimes they walk around with small steps, sometimes they fuse into each other, sometimes they have a race on imaginary horses, or they climb like cockroaches straight upwards through a vertical black backdrop.

Komersant, Moscow

Adapted by director Rimas Tuminas from a Mikhail Lermontov story, Masquerade blends the cool aestheticism of Ingmar Bergman with the passion of the Russian soul. Tuminas subtly cross-stitches a half-dozen or more ice-and-snow-inspired metaphors, including the rolling across the stage of a growing snowball symbolizing the consuming suspicion that leads to the story’s tragedy, and the feverish clinking of spoons in silver dishes of ice cream as a husband’s jealousy culminates in the poisoning of his unnerved wife.

Cathy Meils, Cool Aesthetic, Wordless Horror, American Theatre

Comments

Sponsors: