Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002543, Tue, 4 Nov 1997 13:02:06 -0800


>From: Felix.Saratovsky@rnb.com

"Kamera Obscura". Interestingly, the
>theater, which is located in what seems to be a "new" Russian impacted
>building, is located in the basement, and consists of no more than a
>quarter of the space of '92 Theater at Wes. Nevertheless, it was a packed
>house and the production was first rate. The stage design was minimalist,
>containing of little more than several chairs and a projection screen.
>There were four characters: Berg, Magda, Muller, and Bergs brother in law.
>The prologue to Berg's affair with Magda is given through monologues by
>each character,describing their relationships and backgrounds, and
>monologues by two external characters, a detective and a narrator. The
>action of the play begins with Berg's introduction to Magda and ends with
>Berg' death.
>First the interesting elements. I found the use of the projection screen
>most interesting because it completely expanded the "dimensions" of the
>stage. In certain climactic moments characters move behind the screen,
>creating shadows; a nice spin on the idea of the play between light and
>shade. Moreover, the screen is used to show the film in which Magda makes
>her acting debut and a film that shows the pretentious, self-absorbed Magda
>and the childish Berg playing at a resort.
>Besides this, the theme of sensuality is pulled off with mixed success. In
>one scene that comes completely from left field, Magda and Muller perform
>some kind of impressionist dance with balls. Although the dancing is
>linked to sensuality in the play, this form of modern impressionism (if I
>am using the term correctly) seems to be gratuitious. On the other hand,
>the use of balls in playful and sexual scenes is an interesting way to
>highlight absurdity of the relationship between the sixteen year old Magda
>and the middle-aged Berg. This, by the way, is very helpful because it is
>the only effort that the director makes to show Magda's youth; the actress
>is clearly not sixteen and it is very difficult to understand or accept the
>fully absurd scope of the relationship at face value.
>A more problematic aspect of the play is the director's erratic use of
>certain unnamed characters and explicit references to Nabokov. The play
>begins in the "noir" detective film style, with a detective (who never
>reappears) describing Berlin in the 1920's as photos of the city appear on
>the screen. In his monologue the detective briefly mentions the death of
>Nabokov's father and, jokingly, Nabokov's alleged affairs with nymphets.
>There is also a fairly random reference to Yasha Chernyshevsky's suicide.
>On the flip side, there were some nice Nabokovian details within the action
>of the play, as Berg is dressed in a purple robe in the death scene, and
>there are several dental references at "transcendental" moments.