April 01, 1999

A Chichikov For Our Times

It is a testament to Gogol that, on his 190th birthday, the themes of Dead Souls still resonate in Russia. This is particularly true in Lenkom Director Mark Zakharov’s new play, Mystification, based loosely on Gogol’s novel, and written by playwright Nina Sadur.

Mystification’s modern Chichikov (played by Dmitry Pevtsov) is one of the most honest ever. Perhaps because Zakharov sympathizes with the new Russian businessman, with whom the character shares important traits. “For all their ups and downs,” he said “they are the ones who can get things done.” And for them, like for Chichikov, everything is legal which is not illegal.

“Before staging the play,” Zakharov said, “I consulted with legal experts. There was no fraud in Chichikov’s actions [of buying up dead souls]. He didn’t commit a crime punishable under the penal code, just some morally incorrect things.” As Pevtsov said in an interview with Itogi weekly, “He is a young man who, without killing anyone, without breaking the law, decides to earn some money in this country.”

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