Criticism | Platonov: love and anarchy ★★★★

“Over time, we no longer like”, sings Léo Ferré in his great classic. This is the feeling that emerges from the very dark and very successful adaptation of Platonov, on view at the Prospero Theater since last Tuesday.

In this early work, the famous Russian author questions our inability to love. In his own way, he also says that over time, we feel cheated by the wasted years. Revisited by the genius of Angela Konrad, in a show that is both demanding and captivating (but without downtime, despite its duration of 2 h 15 min), the piece is served in psychoanalytic, even Lacanian, sauce.

Presented in 2018 at the same location and with the same cast, the production is resumed in a new Quebec translation by Michel Tremblay which flows naturally. Chekhov wrote Platonov, also known as That crazy Platonov, at 18 years old. He will rework his text, but he will never see it performed during his lifetime. It’s not his best play, too nihilistic and desperate in our opinion. However, it already carries all the major themes of the author ofUncle Vanya.

Seduction game

Anna Petrovna (Violette Chauveau, at the height of her art), widow of an army general, invites relatives and notables to her country house every summer. Among the guests, the young Platonov (Renaud Lacelle-Bourdon, breathtaking), deposed aristocrat of the Russian gentry, became a teacher out of spite.

Married to Sacha (Debbie Lynch-White, disturbing), a woman he despises, Platonov seduces all that moves. But this game of seduction turns into a game of cruelty. Under his carefree charm, Platonov hides an immense pain in living. Manipulator and cynical, he takes pleasure in destroying the lives of others.

In his rereading of Platonov, subtitled Love, hate and blind spots, Angela Konrad focuses on the inner demons of the characters. To their fear of heights, their melancholy. Forget the country dacha, the samovars and the resort, these summer visitors are lost in a madhouse. And which looks like the anteroom of hell!

The characters get exhilarated, drink vodka, snort lines of coke and even go (provoking a recent judgment?) To smoke a cigarette… Not on stage, just outside the emergency exit. They are dressed in evening dress, and move in a space empty of decor. Here and there, the electro music of Simon Gauthier comes to shake their spleen, as in a “rave”; while the magnificent lighting of the designer Cédric Delorme-Bouchard cuts the scenes with mastery.

Admirable direction of actors

But what grabs in this production, and this, from the first minutes, is the remarkable mastery of Angela Konrad in her direction of the actors. They are (all) inhabited, crossed, even possessed by their role. In their entire body.

Angela Konrad leaves nothing to chance in her staging. It multiplies the actions and games behind the scenes. It constantly appeals to the intelligence of the spectators. But not just our head. It also appeals to our affect. We come out of his Platonov stirred, dejected, probably not in the best frame of mind in the world… but convinced of having had a unique experience.

Platonov (Love, hate and blind spots)

Au Prospero, Until December 11

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