Last fall, the theater "School of the modern play" staged the play "There is no Tolstoy" by Alexander Sozonov based on the play by Olga Pogodina-Kuzmina. You can see the performance in the near future on March 2, 13 and 28.
“There is no Tolstoy” is a vivid example of how the myth about the great writer is being shattered, a myth that had taken shape for decades even during the life of Tolstoy himself. Moreover, the myth itself, paradoxically, retains its form, we still perceive Tolstoy in the mainstream of ideas about him and cannot get rid of these ideas. So all the characters of the play - Tolstoy's close circle - exist in this paradigm, they seem to be not at home, but in the house-museum of the great old man, they are not full-fledged people, but only belong to the Tolstoy family and are forced to wear this loud count's name, said in a press release.
Any myth is complex and ambiguous. In this case, we are faced with an artificial, author's construction of a myth based on a conscious break with the real life of the writer. Tolstoy himself and his followers, the Tolstoyans, worked long and hard to create the myth of the great elder and sufferer for the fate of the Russian people. But how much does this myth have to do with reality? The creators of the play offer to look at it through the eyes of Tolstoy's wife Sofia Andreevna (Irina Alferova). Who, if not his wife, the closest person, knows everything about his great husband, about all his contradictions, the hiding places of his complex and multifaceted mind? Who will patiently endure these contradictions, help, support? The main question of the performance follows from these questions: what is the role of women in the life of the creator, the genius who gave the world something that is recognized as great, ahead of the era? What is it like to be this woman next to such a person and over the years more and more aware of her position?
Sofya Andreevna, her children and her inner circle find themselves involved in a conflict that lies at the heart of the play and the performance: the publisher, friend and follower of Tolstoy, Vladimir Chertkov (Nikolai Golubev), through the new secretary he sent to Yasnaya Polyana (Alexander Seppius) wants to learn about Tolstoy's will … Sofya Andreevna, of course, is against the fact that outsiders, in her opinion, people intrude into their family life and into the affairs of her husband. Chertkov causes her acute hostility as a person encroaching on Tolstoy's legacy (not only spiritual, but also material), excommunicating her from her husband, severing all ties between them. In this conflict, each character of the play is revealed, since everyone is interested in Tolstoy's inheritance and will. But this is the outer side of the conflict; all together they are united by a common problem - a dry and even indifferent attitude towards them on the part of Lev Nikolaevich, husband and father. Each of Tolstoy's children bears his burden, an inevitable comparison with him, which prevents them from finding their place in life. Everyone has personal scores for their great father, but someone speaks about it directly, like Tolstoy's son Ilya Lvovich (Ivan Mamonov), and someone tries to justify his father's shortcomings and even believes in his holiness and high destiny, like the daughter of Tolstoy Alexander (Valeria Lanskaya). And in the center of this feeling of abandonment and great resentment is Sofya Andreevna, the mother of Lev Nikolaevich's thirteen children, his ally, assistant, but, as it turned out, is no longer a like-minded person. She is the starting point of the performance, and all other storylines and conflicts tend to this point.
The set design of the play is built in such a way that the performers move throughout the hall and interact with each other in different parts of it.Several cameras are watching them at once, the images from which are broadcast on the walls of the hall. Which character is in the focus of attention - he becomes at that moment the main character, in that we have the opportunity to observe every facial movement, to consider the expression of the eyes. This creates a strong effect: the images on the walls flow into each other, increase, layering, and their black-and-white scale in the spirit of a movie immerses you in the magic of historicism.
Tolstoy himself never appears in the play (which is reflected in the title) - only his heavy steps are heard from above, and his all-seeing eye is watching everyone from the ceiling. Tolstoy seems to be constantly present, not a single word escapes his gaze and hearing, he seems to see through his household. How appropriate the use of such a metaphor is is an interesting question, because Tolstoy had little interest in the affairs of the family and did not follow them in the literal sense of the word. But this all-seeing eye on the ceiling can be interpreted as a convention that conveys the feeling of eternal dependence on the glory and name of the great elder in Sofia Andreevna and her children.
“Tolstoy can by no means be called a feminist, but in Anna Karenina or Resurrection he raises the question of a woman’s right to freedom. Tolstoy's attitude to women is a controversial topic, and someone will recognize Tolstoy as an adherent of exclusively patriarchal views, but one cannot completely deny his attention to the problem of a woman's life in Russia. The documentary basis of the play (the play was written on the basis of the diaries and letters of Sofya Andreevna) saves from historical inaccuracies, possible inconsistencies with the spirit of the era at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1910, when the action of the play takes place, the true emancipation of a woman is still far enough, and a woman is just learning to assert her rights, and Sofya Andreevna is already in old age to rethink her behavior, and how is it possible next to such a personality like Tolstoy? Sofya Andreevna's problem is not only that she was crushed as a person by her great husband, humiliated, betrayed (like her children), but also that she was brought up in the same values that Tolstoy professed. Suffering from her husband's inattention and questioning into emptiness, Sofya Andreevna herself is a hostage of social foundations and norms to which she herself doomed herself by marrying Tolstoy. When she finds out about the pregnancy of Katyusha's maid, she forcibly gives her in marriage to an elderly drunken man, thereby condemning the girl to a life in torment, and truly wonders how she else could have done in such a situation. Tolstoy the preacher, Tolstoy the teacher, Tolstoy the founder of the religious teaching - Tolstoyism - leads the people. And here the question cannot but arise: does he have the right to do so? After all, people close to him suffer next to him, and Sofya Andreevna Tolstaya is the quintessence of this suffering. Or shouldn't such a question be raised?.. ", - writes the press service of the theater.