Yakubovich reworked Molière: the comedy “The Miser” was played at the New Theater

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“I sat at night and poked around in the thoughts of the sages, exploring greed, selfishness, despotism towards children”

The New Theater presented the premiere of Molière’s comedy The Miser with Leonid Yakubovich in the title role. The well-known TV presenter acted not only as an artist, but also as a co-author of the French classic, making his own literary version of the text, as well as supplementing it with author’s monologues that turn the manic miser Harpagon into an intellectual.

On stage is the library of the enlightened thinker of the era of French classicism designed by the set designer Alexander Tsvetnoy: folios, sculptures, portraits, including those of Molière himself. Music by Lully, Handel, Vivaldi. Actors in bright stylized costumes and unusual wigs-caps, which were invented by costume designer Viktoria Sevryukova, are playing Molière theater according to the idea of ​​director Valentin Klementyev.

The center of this game is Leonid Yakubovich as Harpagon. He is eccentric and comical exactly within the boundaries that the satirical comedy genre suggests. The audience willingly accepts the style of the performance and laughs merrily at the ridiculous greedy man. Especially when the masters of the comedy genre Evdokia Germanova (Frozina) and Sergey Gabrielyan (Jacques) are included in the dialogues. But then the stage light suddenly changes, instead of baroque music, the tragic adagio of Samuel Barber sounds, and Harpagon turns from a caricatured miser into a reflective lonely old man, turning to God and pouring quotes from great thinkers.

Leonid Yakubovich:

— I am a reader who has been surrounded by classical literature since childhood. Accustomed by parents and teachers to read good books, go to theaters and museums. I know the work of Molière very well. When the conversation turned to the production of The Miser, I must admit I was surprised. Because it’s not Molière’s best play. It seems that he composed it in a hurry, filling it with situations borrowed from various sources. Then I read all the existing translations into Russian and realized that none of them has a decent literary processing. And there were not so many performances. The most famous film adaptation is with Louis de Funes in the title role. But this is not Molière – this is de Funes. So there were doubts. And then the directors had an idea to make Harpagon good in the finale. At first I rebelled against this, but then I began to look inside this play for something that makes the hero not so unambiguous. I sat at night and poked around in the thoughts of the sages, exploring greed, selfishness, despotism in relation to children. And he got into this whole story so much that in two nights he wrote four monologues, which gradually reveal the inner world of the hero. I liked the monologues, and they told me: you are so immersed in this topic that who, if not you, should play it …

And Leonid Yakubovich played. He destroyed the standard idea not only about the hero of Moliere’s play, but also about himself, showing a fair amount of acting skills and a literary gift.

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 29052 dated June 20, 2023

Newspaper headline:
Leonid Yakubovich revised Molière

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