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Russian Theatre Brings Dostoevsky Play Uncle's Dream to Tbilisi

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, October 11
Tbilisi International Festival of Theatre ended with Temur Chkheidze’s wonderful staging of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Uncle's Dream on Saturday. Rustaveli Theatre’s big stage greeted Russia’s Bolshoi Drama Theatre (BDT) troupe with a total sellout. The three-hour performance, named as the best play of the festival, was staged by the artists from Russia and Georgia. Dostoyevsky, who is considered one of the most difficult authors of Russian literature, was made easy to understand on the night. Famous artists from the USSR and holders of various awards and honours, Oleg Basilashvili and Alisa Freindlich, made the play very special.

Dostoevsky’s tragicomedy, which first appeared in a Russian magazine in 1859, broke his ten-year silence brought on by his arrest, incarceration and penal servitude. After its first staging in those days the play was described as a piece of “dove-like mildness and remarkable innocence.” The work enhanced Dostoevsky's reputation which was eventually much later to be realized all over the world.

When the Bolshoi Drama Theatre turned to this unfairly forgotten story, for the first time in the history of its dramatization it was staged without the cliched satire of society and derision of its customs typical of previous attempts. The production’s creators staged not only a vaudeville about a crazy old rich man tricked into marrying a young beauty, but also the profound drama of each of the story’s characters.

The story is about a poor aristocratic family where a mother (Alisa Freindlich) is trying to marry her daughter to a rich noble (Oleg Basilashvili) to ensure a safe future for the family. The noble who really likes the young beauty agrees to marry her but finally realizes that he is too old for new adventures. Freindlich’s character is trying hard to succeed in the bargain but her daughter loves a poor musician who is about to die.

The comical incidents from the lives of the dwellers of the provincial town of Mordasov results in a dramatic denouement and reminds spectators that life is an irretrievable moment of existence, that happiness is swift and short. The play leaves the spectator with the impression that all of our days are at times merely a sweet and doleful dream about something that will never be a reality but will remain a dream forever.

Headed by the artistic director Temur Chkheidze the BDT attempts to awaken the best in people with its retelling of this classic story and to teach people to respect the genuinely humane. With its Russian and internationally renowned plays as well as modern dramatic art pieces in its repertoire the BDT has taken its legitimate place in the history of theatre.

The audience greeted the much-beloved People’s Artist of Russia and Georgia – Temur Chkeidze and his troupe with great applause. The Festival Director Eka Mazmishvili and the Managing Director of Rustaveli Theatre Zaal Chikobava awarded the actor of Georgian origin, Oleg Basilashvili, with honorary citizenship and gave him a symbolic golden key of the capital.