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'Nord-Ost' at the Mogilev
Written by Денис Васильков   
Среда, 12 Март 2014

Drama Theatre stages a play that «takes your breath away»

The Mogilev Drama Theater's small stage is the setting for 'Nord-Ost', a documentary play by Torsten Buchsteiner. The premiere will take place on March 13th, but it is no longer possible to get there – tickets are sold out. The next available seats are not until April 27th.

ImageAs the name implies, the play is about the tragedy that took place in October of 2002 in the theater on Dubrovka in Moscow, when 42 terrorists took 850 people hostage and held them 57 hours. Gas was used during the hostage rescue operation, and 170 people were killed. After the public showing on March 11th, director Vladimir Petrovich stated: «It should not cease to excite us, as it is impossible to forget.»


One is unlikely to forget that audience's worries. The play begins with a listing of the active characters — three women brought together by fate to the same place at the same time, but each experiences the tragedy in her own way. They sit among the audience in the auditorium. The camera picks out of women's faces in the darkness, and a voice describes who they are, then the women begin their stories, one at a time. The stories gradually gain momentum, and all three end up on stage. A feeling of impending doom is strengthened by the fact that everyone already knows how it all ends, but tragedy is achieved through the extraordinary documentary clarity of the text that the actresses perform.


Vladimir Petrovich admits that he deliberately avoided gunshot sounds or pictures of the dead — it was unneeded. By the end of the play it is difficult to catch one's breath, or to make a sober assessment of current events in general.

The fate of Buchsteiner's play is fairly complex — in Russian theaters empty seats and constant cancellations. For a while it enjoyed some popularity in Ukrainian ones, but in Western Europe this play was met with full houses. The Mogilev director is counting on tours, but admits that while Buchsteiner's text is in the best traditions of journalism — objective, impartial, and without coat rack labels, the Mogilev version of the production, due to its barely perceptible emphasis, forces one to think about the causes and consequences of the incident.


The Mogilev Drama Theater has put on a rarity, a topical, powerful play. Day-to-day problems, such as bad roads, city traffic jams, and rising prices, seem like complete nonsense afterwards.  One worry is that medics should be on duty near the auditorium, since it is difficult to predict the reaction of elderly and impressionable theatergoers.  For the young it is hard as well, since one has to go on living with these fears after the show.


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