Adaptations of absurdist authors, such as that of Daniil Kharms, must be met with the greatest care with crisp and sharp performances. Thankfully adaptor and director Olya Petrakova and her ensemble have done just that. Having gone in with no knowledge of the Russian author and thus having no context for the work, I thoroughly enjoyed the series of sketches largely due to the phenomenal performances.
Done in wonderfully traditional clowning, the ensemble perfectly embodies the absurd and surrealist style. There’s some trimming that could still be done as some sketches fall flat, however Petrakova has kept the transitions sharp and the pace never lags. Musical accompaniment by Jef Bek adds to the lively atmosphere. It’s a bizarre evening n...
There is nothing like some absurdist Russian theater on a Sunday night. “Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms” presented by ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble) is an avant-garde theater piece based on the stories of poet and children’s writer Daniil Ivanovich Yuvatchov (who renamed himself Daniil Kharms). An easy way to describe this show would be absurdist Russian clown sketch comedy – or to not to describe it at all and just say that you will experience something wonderfully fantastic and mystical, and you will leave the theater with a happy heart and a lightened soul....
The Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms
By Brian Sonia-Wallace
*This review first appeared on ArtsBeatLA.com*
If this production were to play a verb, it would be, “to tickle the audience”. An intricate European clown show descending into punk chaos, this production is a parade of ever-sillier characters marinating in the irrationality of their early 20th Century Russian world. I did want to know more about the life and times of Daniil Kharms, the absurdist short story author whose stories the play is based on, and felt that an understanding of where he was writing from would deepen my appreciation of the piece. As much as I enjoyed the production, I felt like I must have missed out on a lot from lack of context. The show is at its stronges...