When fifteen year-old, state orphan Natasha Banina jumps out a third floor window on a dare, she’s wounded and taken to a hospital. There the girl is interviewed by a journalist. Never having been treated with kindness and decency, the teenager becomes increasingly unhinged and obsessed with the young reporter. She concocts a rosey romantic future for them, including marriage. A succession of hysterical fantasies are played out as the character tells us her story up to tragic denouement.
This is a tremendously ambitious production of a dense, dramatic, semi-autobiographical piece. Writing/translation is raw and powerful. (Some of the wordless sections could be successfully trimmed.) Theatrical manifestation of Natasha’s unbalanced thoughts and related events is wonderfully imaginative and effective. Set, Costumes, Video, Music, and make-up all work to bring the play to startling life, allowing us to share not just observe the heroine’s manic, confused condition.
Messily painted, fluorescent pipes and sink are evocative. Hidden compartments in the tiled and slatted wall are ingeniously used throughout and leave us with a brilliant, final image. Videos employ everything from pop to Dadaist art/photos to impressionistically illuminate Natasha’s experience. From institutional uniform to a pitch perfect wedding dress, clothing enhances. Music is haunting and apt. Love the sound of this particular music box. Make-up manages to make a very pretty girl look harrowed.
Darya Denisova inhabits the role with obvious commitment. She never stops moving, posing, picking/pulling at herself. One can viscerally feel Natasha’s darting mind and embroiled emotions. Denisova displays the pendulum swing of happy hope and rabbit-like fear endemic to her character’s unbalanced condition in every part of her face and body. She conjures Natasha’s recollections.
Director Igor Golyak, to whom credit goes for this vivid conception of Natasha’s Dream, makes the piece engrossing and painful. Wonderful small business emerges at every turn; repeated employment of (paper) roses and magazine cut-outs for example, is extremely inventive. Decision as to when the protagonist breaks the fourth wall and when she retreats into her psychosis is adroit. Big physical gestures work splendidly.
Unfortunately, Denisova’s strong Russian accent, though it emphatically heightens reality, is sometimes unintelligible. This occurs consistently when she speaks in a fast, high voice as someone else. Losing chunks of important monologue is an issue. Part of this, as well as the credibility of her affliction, might be helped by slowing down the pacing. Words would be less likely to come out garbled, physical acting would seem more pronounced and less jittery.
Photos Courtesy of Natasha’s Dream
United Solo Festival presents
Natasha’s Dream by Yaroslava Pulinovich
Translated by John Freedman
Featuring Darya Denisova
Directed by Igor Golyak- Artistic Director of Needham Massachusetts’ Arlekin Players
Technical; Director/Lighting Design-Mike McTeague
Set & Costume Design- Anastasiya Grigoryeva
Make-Up -Lenna Kaleva
September 25, 2016
410 West 42nd Street
In its 7th season, United Solo is the world’s largest solo theater festival. Performers from 18 countries, 23 states, and six continents will present their unique works between September 15 and November 20, 2016.
Tickets: Telecharge or 212-239-6200 and at the Theatre Row Box Office