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Buerian mode. The "test" scene, in which the daughter paints her face green to confirm her suspicions about her father's colorblindness, and the wife's final desperate monologue, addressed to her unseen husband, remain indelible theatrical experiences. Manuel Tejada, in the potentially searing role of the critic, and Carlos Lemos as his father affect a monotonous deliver that almost negates their scenes together. The fifth character, that of an aging alcoholic revolutionary, was originally played by veteran actor Ismael Merlo, who died shortly after a performance early in the run of the play. Pastor Serrador now performs the part adequately, if somewhat too casually. Dialogo secreto is Buero-Vallejo's finest play of recent years, and even in this conservative staging the dramatic thrust is evident, as is its powerful indictment of hypocrisy. In some future production, overseen by a more daring team, the potential impact of its non-verbal effects may yet be realized. The Possessed A Dramatic Adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Novel Directed by Yuri Lyubimov The Almeida Theatre Company (London) Rosette Lamont Yuri Lyubimov's adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel The Possessed (also known as The Devils) is his first creation outside of Russia. Prior to being stripped of his Soviet nationality, Lyubimov worked on his version of The Possessed for seven years. It is unlikely that the play would ever have passed censorship and been given a production at the Taganka. The Possessed is Dostoyevksy's eerily prophetic political vision of the transformation of ideals into tyrannical ideology. This perversion of a potentially noble utopian dream is accomplished by Peter Verkhovensky, a demonic revolutionary who has surrounded himself with a retinue of fools, murderers, cowards to achieve his own bid for power by violence and deceit. Verkhovensky's fatal flaw is his choice of the elusive, haunted aristocrat, Nicholas Stavrogin, as the leader of a future uprising. Stavrogin will not let himself be used, preferring to take his own life rather than enter into any kind of inauthentic conspiracy. Equally capable of crime and sacrifice, the Byronic Stavrogin remains a solitary Lucifer, the symbol of an unchanneled, self-destroying energy, a force which propels him simultaneously to heroic and darkly evil deeds. The minor characters in the novel are almost as important as the protagonists: Kirillov, the pre-existentialist thinker, who affirms his individual freedom by taking his own life, a God-like 69 victory-as he sees it-over his overwhelming fear of death; Shatov, who condemns himself to liquidation, assassination, by leaving his erstwhile friends, the revolutionary conspirators, because he has come to believe in Russia's Orthodox Christian mission; the grotesque, fawning yet violent Lebyadkin, a Falstaff to Stavrogin's King Hal; Lebyadkin's crippled, halfdemented sister, Maria, Stavrogin's secret wife. An atheistic socialist in his youth, Dostoyevsky underwent a spiritual crisis during his imprisonment and his subsequent Siberian exile. The Possessed is less a work of fiction than an apocalyptic novel-pamphlet, an expose of the dangers of unbridled, unprincipled radicalism. Dostoyevsky's extraordinarily accurate vision of the future upheavals in his land came from his acquaintance with nihilists and terrorists nurtured in the West. Shatov's murder, for example, was inspired by Netchaieff's killing of the student Ivanov. Verkhovensky's program mirrors Bakunin's organization of secret "national brothers" and his "Y." Like the author of God and the State, Verkhovensky preaches strict solidarity between a small group of a dozen individuals tied to one another by their enforcement of blind obedience on the part of the rest of their followers. Plotting and counterplotting is the basic principle of these "underground" types. They are, as Albert Camus stated in program notes to his own brilliant adaptation of The Possessed, "torn, dead souls, incapable of love and mourning their impotence, wanting to believe yet unable to do so, like so many of our contemporaries." Lyubimov's spectacle also focuses on Dostoyevsky's vision of a future police state. Less philosophical than Camus's adaptation, Lyubimov's expressionistic enactment is a personal comment on the society he was finally forced to leave. Lyubimov has brought Dostoyevsky's novel upon the stage in a single set which does away with time...


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pp. 69-72
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