Saturday, 5 April 1997

When A Man Comes To A Woman, April 5, 1997

When a Man comes to a Woman by Semen Zlotnik 
La Mama, until April 20, 1997
Reviewed by Kate Herbert around April 3, 1997

If you were to toss melancholy and absurdity into a blender, you would have something resembling Russian comedy. When a Man comes to a Woman by Semen Zlotnik, is no exception.

This play, directed by the Melbourne-based, Russian-born Leonid Verzub, is wild. It feels like a Russian comic romance seen through the bottom of an empty vodka glass at four in the morning.

Dina (Annekathrin Wetzel) is set up by a mutual friend with an unsolicited blind date. Victor (Greg Ulfan) is an under-confident pharmacist, arrives 25 minutes early. He is accused of being too stooped, too short, too early, too muscular so he apologises. "My height fluctuates."

Ulfan plays a classic low-status clown to Wetzel's manipulative seductress. They are a great double act working a very demanding script with zest. Dina changes female roles so fast it makes Victor's hair thin. She is the ingenue, the seductress, the wife, the witch. He is the naive suitor, intoxicated with love.

In a couple of hours they play out a ten-year relationship from meeting through courtship, marriage to tedious domesticity and entrapment. Victor is literally "tied down". This production boasts the funniest kissing scene I have ever seen - in the theatre.

It is set in a striking design by Adrienne Chisholm of a livid pink monochromatic wallpaper which is all over floor and walls. Variations on the sugary "A Man and a Woman" theme are a witty accompaniment.

The show is stylishly directed by the highly experienced Verzub who trained in Russia. The piece begins a little self-consciously but the energy and weirdness of the narrative take over and it takes flight like a wild bird eventually.


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