While other large theaters are relaxing during the summer holidays, the New Riga Theater has started the season 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, such a association is suggested by the stage arrangement created in the format of Mārtiņš Vilkārs old museum – 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. People live in this room like their own home – behind the portrait frames and black padded niches, household items are stored, pedestals are used as lockers, 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 serves as a remark illustration).
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 transformed into the role of the old-fashioned old man Edith Liversage. Very reminiscent of Shapoklak from puppet cartoons about the 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.
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. In addition, with the help of these details, the production has managed to achieve a sense of changed and even questionable reality. Just one example – the profile of the archdeacon, played by Andris Keišs, can be felt both in the bas-relief above the eaves of the fireplace 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 is also noticeable in the text of the novel’s dramatization, which from time to time tastefully plays with the actors’ physical actions and slightly grotesque gestures (the playwright is not indicated in the program; I mention that the director).