Theater Review: White Nights

Everything is exaggerated, enlarged, drawn out like in dreams.

White Nights By Fyodor Dostoevsky Directed by Nikolai Drouchik Gesher Theater January 24 Everything is exaggerated, enlarged, drawn out like in dreams - the kind that you want to keep, but you know you can't and all you'll have left in the morning is a memory. That's how director Nikolai Drouchik (Moscow) has chosen to tell the story of White Nights, based on a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky. "Heavens, only one moment of bliss?" asks shy, solitary Dreamer (Amnon Wolf). "What, isn't that enough for a whole life?" That's the moment when lonely Nastenka (Lucy Dubintchik) says she'll be his, and then suddenly, she's gone. White Nights is set amid the streets, canals and bridges of St. Petersburg - intimated brilliantly by Maria Mitropanova's set of suspended balance beams and oblong transparent boxes - during four day-like summer nights. A minor clerk, Dreamer lives with a slatternly housekeeper, Matryona (Noa Kolar). Nastenka lives with her eccentric grandmother (Michal Weinberg) and their speech-impaired maid, Fyokla (Kolar). Enter a Lodger (Kelim Kamenko) with whom Nastenka falls in love and who has vowed to return and wed her. Wolf has internalized his Dreamer and thus is free to have fun. Dubintchik's fluid, believable Nastenka walks the tightrope (sometimes literally), between camp and comedy. Kolar turns two bit parts into jewels. Weinberg's eccentric grandma is almost pitch-perfect while Kamenko's Lodger provides sedate passion. It all works. And even if the production and the actors are a little too much on one note (and they are), there's the wonderful consolation prize of a gloriously rendered bit from Rossini's The Barber of Seville.