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THE LOWER DEPTHS

Actor – Individual – Audience

Sigita Ivaškaitė

2011-03-25

In comparison with the original play by Maxim Gorky, director Oskaras Koršunovas used rather few words in his new production. The text chosen by the director would not make up even one out of four acts of the play. A real traceable plot and a distinct character line have been discarded. A meeting of the actor (man) with the audience (us) comes to the foreground.

Sitting at a table, the characters speak as if about nothing, as if about something important. One would say that they are suffering from hangover, worn-out, each of them has his or her own world and problems, which inescapably collide in such a small space, and probably in such a small world in general.

In Koršunovas’ interpretation social status is not important (…). Far more important is the presence of the actors themselves in the room and the texts that they recite. The audience inevitably sees an actor not only as a character, but also as a person.
Darius Gumauskas, the Actor, and Hamlet’s theme is a separate part of Koršunovas’s production. In Gorky’s text references to Shakespeare’s character are rather illustrative, – it is a dream role of each actor. In the context of the performance the associations with Hamlet lead to other concepts by the director.

Already at the press conference which opened the current season of OKT, Koršunovas spoke about his plans placing the emphasis on two aspects: opposition to worthless pop production and the value of the actor as a unique instrument. Both intentions show throughout the performance. Starting with the “naked” acting of the actors and ending with “Hamlet”, which fills “The Lower Depths” with implications of the previous productions by Koršunovas.

It is the Actor played by Gumauskas that communicates the most sensitive thoughts. One can see him as an actor who has ruined himself by drinking, and has once acted on the stage (never mind that it was the role of Gravedigger), but it is more than obvious that the director grants him much more significance. His tragedy has elevated the actor himself and his work. Gumauskas’s psychophysics is even awesomely convincing. In the scene where the Actor keeps trying to recall a text that he once knew so well it seems that soon he is going to bend over backwards. But all his efforts are fruitless.

The open form of “The Lower Depths” does not allow us to assess the performance in one single way. It is obvious that every time it changes and looks different to each spectator. The spectators have to use their personal experience, not to block themselves off from the actors who reach out to them. The mirror from “Hamlet” has become a transparent glass that must be broken. It is only by hurting ourselves with its splinters that we can feel what we are.

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Sigita Ivaškaitė, 7 meno dienos, 25 March 2011