The burnt-out inhabitants of a Russian manor seem trapped there, as if in a cosmic time capsule. Sentenced to one another, they torment each other and experience the lurches of the heart the young Chekov invented for them. Yet Konstantin Bogomolov changes the rules of the game: we have women in the men’s roles and men in place of the women. Otherwise, the Russian director serves up this Chekov fairly straight, creating a subversive analysis of interpersonal relationships: “Exchanging the roles of the men and women […] reveals a contour of a chill abstraction, and it is not without its feminist subtext. The scenes where the women playing the men eye their wives shows the arbitrary violence of the patriarchy, the authority of the male gaze,” wrote Witold Mrozek. “It turns out that the cruelty depicted in Chekov’s relationships is sharpened when shorn of the psychological scaffolding of the late 19th-century theater.” In this omnipresent tedium of life on the peripheries of an empire, the local Don Juan, the Platonov of the title, is king; he is played in a restrained yet masterful way by Anna Radwan.
There is no more returning to that world, […] and the specter of the bankruptcy of possessions has long been replaced by the specter of the lack of ideas and principles worth trusting; nonetheless, the marvelous profligates and the sad and beautiful martyrs we find in Chekov seem closer to us than ever – we even envy them a bit. They stubbornly seek meaning, and although they do not find much of anything, they struggle on. We no longer feel this urge. The concept of meaning is an icon in “Google” or on a smartphone. A moment later, meaning finally turns into sex. And then the pattern repeats itself.
Łukasz Maciejewski, www.aict.art.pl