While other major theaters relax on summer vacations, The new Riga Theater season has begun vigorously in the first half of July. Since July 9, a new repertoire unit has been offered – “Chrysanthemums”, which is a dramatization of the British writer Barbara Pima’s novel “Vai gazele rāma” in the version of director Gats Šmits.
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The new production is a real time machine. First of all, the stage layout created in the format of Mārtiņš Vilkārs old museum encourages such an association – the people of the provincial town and their problems are exhibited in a room surrounded by dark green walls, with portraits and showcases on the sides and several podiums of different heights. People live in this room as their home – behind the portrait frames and black upholstered niches, household items are stored, pedestals are useful as cabinets, benches or tables, also to climb and look somewhere outside the “room” or to pack with their importance. But the screen on the wall opposite the viewers is reminiscent of a digital album, in which photo portraits of the characters of the production from the departed youth change from time to time (also works as an illustration of remarks).
The actors playing in the show are very old in their stage characters, so it is not very cozy to look at it. Who then likes to realize that he looks older than he feels. The only thing that saves this “situation” is the humor that sparkles from time to time in the acting or paradoxes of the plot. Almost unrecognizably, Jana Čivžele has turned into the role of the old-fashioned old man Edith Liversage. Very reminiscent of Shapoklak from puppet cartoons about crocodile Gen. This questioner of the usual world order with a gas-powered gait, blinking of nervous eyes and self-righteous skepticism is my favorite of the show.
Photo: Mārtiņš Vilkārsis
The other actors of the ensemble also play their roles with taste, enjoying a happy, humorous reunion with the audience. I also watched the first act, rejoicing at the bouquet of talented actors of my generation, at the cleverly stylish visual costume, where every detail matters, while not exaggerating the abundance of references. Moreover, with the help of these details, the production has managed to achieve a sense of changed and even questionable reality. Just one example – the archdeacon played Andris Keišs, the profile can be felt both in the bas – relief above the fireplace ledge, and in a very lively way at some point in one of the dark niches of the “museum wall”. Kate’s hats, costume cut, costume accessories, and matching wigs are a well-thought-out mid-20th century fashion stylization. Every thing has its own time and place to notice it at the right time. The playfulness can also be seen in the text of the novel’s dramatization, which from time to time tastefully plays with the actors’ physical activities and slightly grotesque gestures (the playwright is not indicated in the program; I mention that the director).