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Kalyagin Off in «Forever»
"The Moscow Times" ,
Ksenia Dragunskaya’s "The Secret of Russian Camembert, Which Is Lost Forever, Forever" is a play that has not found its match in its production at the Et Cetera Theater. This show is so diffuse and misguided, it is impossible to judge the play itself. What is clear is that Alexander Kalyagin’s theater—while enjoying the publicity and renown that Kalyagin’s status as a popular actor and the chairman of the Union of Theater Workers brings it—continues to be incapable of finding a style or the material that might suit it. "Forever, Forever" is a hallucinatory piece that skips around in space and time, providing glimpses of people suffering or savoring the pangs of love. It begins with the apparent suicide of the young Kryukson then takes us through short scenes depicting his father’s carefree and fruitful love life, Kryukson’s ex-lover’s failing marriage, her confronting him when Kryukson takes up with another and other minor detours and incidents. Throughout, a silent witness to it all is Alexander Pushkin, a symbol of elusive grace and harmony. The author’s stipulation that her heroes are “young, handsome, healthy and wealthy, but they suffer terribly” may be an ironic pose in part. But they do suffer terribly. Under Kalyagin’s direction we focus on this interminably. What we cannot do is sympathize with them. They are flitting, though unchanging, images that neither reveal themselves nor attract us. The acting, as is common at the Et Cetera, is unremarkable. Kalyagin, in two brief scenes as Kryukson’s father, rattles off his comic lines with the rote flair of a vaudeville player. The others work with studious competence although with little sense of dramatic direction. Ksenia Dragunskaya is considered one of the better young playwrights, although one would not know that by this production.