The premiere of the play “I killed the Tsar” staged by Vladimir Mirzoev, who has been working in recent years, and most likely forcedly, exclusively in a chamber space, took place in the basement room of Ploschad 8/3, where Teatr.doc once worked. This is a chronicle of the massacre of the royal family that took place on the night of July 16-17, 1918, as presented by the playwright Oleg Bogaev. The viewer looks at the tragic events through the eyes of ordinary people – a driver, a cleaning lady, a waitress and even a poodle of Tsarevich Alexei. They have not an ounce of sympathy for the crowned victims.
The performance was rehearsed during the pandemic in the zoom, and now there was the opportunity to conduct only four live rehearsals. They played several performances and scattered in all directions, Elena Koreneva left for the shooting. And the day before the premiere, the writer Oleg Bogaev from Yekaterinburg, where he lives and runs the Ural magazine, traveled to Moscow with adventures. Vigilant employees of the Ural airport suspected that something was wrong, having found several books in the passenger’s luggage entitled “I killed the king.” What they thought and what “bloody boys” appeared before their eyes, one can only guess. So Oleg Bogaev barely made it to his flight.
Latvian director Alvis Hermanis recently told how he staged “Heart of a Dog” in Switzerland and was forced to replace the performer of the role of Sharikov, because he was overwhelmed with excessive sympathy for his hero, like most of the troupe. The Europeans found themselves on the side of the humiliated proletariat, and not at all of Professor Preobrazhensky. Likewise, the common people in the performance of Vladimir Mirzoev do not have a drop of compassion for the crowned family. His heroes, as if being interrogated in some kind of court of history, testify, answering the question whether they feel sorry for the murdered tsar and his family. And all these good working people, real and fictional at the same time, answer no. No sympathy. Sorry for no one, no one. Someone will paint over the windows outside and inside the house so that the sovereign does not see the light of God. Someone will begin to steal and sell the sovereign’s property in the bazaar. If a royal monogram is sewn onto her linen and clothes, then there will be no price for such a product. It was not bad at all to live next to the royal family, which was about to go to the slaughter. Someone on that terrible night just rolled over on the other side, hearing the screams. All these were ordinary, unremarkable people, indifferent people.
In 2019, at the Theater of Nations, Oleg Bogaev’s play was staged by Mikhail Patlasov, made a multimedia, so-called VR version, and the role of Nicholas II was played by Yevgeny Mironov. Now it went to Oleg Dulenin, who became an assistant to the director, played two more roles – the engineer Ipatov, the owner of the very house where the Romanovs were dealt with (no one asked permission, they came, took them for a while and used them) and the revolutionary who was unnamed in the play, who boasted of involvement to this murder. In fact, he had no direct relation to what happened. Now the streets in many cities beyond the Urals are named after this “hero”. A young schoolgirl performed by Maria Carlson also assures that it was she who killed the tsar. An honorable and glorious business. Many want to be involved in it.
These are they, “secondary people”, as Kira Muratova once called her ordinary heroes, ordinary people. Actually, the play is not about the royal family, but about them, those who carried out the resolution of the executive committee of the Ural regional council of workers, peasants and soldiers’ deputies, those who simply remained indifferent to the brutal massacre. Now, at the Donskoy cemetery, where the ashes of Yakov Yurovsky, who led the execution of Nicholas II and his family, rests, someone constantly desecrates his grave.
There are only seven actors on the stage and fifteen characters. So almost everyone has multiple roles. Yulia Salmina plays a woman who washed away the royal blood – ordinary, red, and not blue, as she thought. She is also Alex, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Elena Koreneva played a waitress assigned to serve the royal people, provide them with food. Compatriots advise to feed the sovereign’s family less, then there will be less feces and easier to clean. Then the actress will appear in a sailor suit and short pants, like the adolescent Tsarevich Alexei. But she will play his poodle Joy, who will not forgive the owner of betrayal – as it was possible to leave your beloved dog to the mercy of fate. Elena Koreneva will wear something like silk pajamas, giving her an oriental look, and speak on behalf of the journalist of the Ural newspaper. This fearless actress always knew how to surprise: with roles, departure to America, a story about how she worked there as a waitress. Her nude photograph appeared on the cover of AIDS-Info in 1995 and became a rarity, and is still being hunted for, and then it was a shock for many, like the release of an autobiographical book. Recently, Koreneva has had a renaissance in cinema. She played several gorgeous roles in “Van Gogh” by Sergei Livnev, “Lethe” by Kirill Serebrennikov, “Dead Souls” by Constantinople, where she starred as Korobochka. In 2015, Vladimir Mirzoev’s film “Her name was Mumu” was released with her participation.
On a small stage – a minimum of furnishings: chairs in a row, a table with blanks, which are like the skulls of the murdered. The sovereign is in underpants, like other characters, the singer Irina Ryndina is also in underwear. With guitarist Alexei Sidorov, they create dissonance to all that quiet, everyday nightmare that is happening before our eyes. The waitress Koreneva is wearing a Soviet-style women’s combination. And the bodies of those killed in their underwear will lie in a row, like a monolithic wall in the semi-darkness of the basement, very close to us, and the viewer will be silent.
Testimony in the murder of the royal family