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Reissued to tie in with a new production of Flight adapted by Ron Hutchinson and performed at the Olivier, Royal National Theatre Mikhail Bulgakov was one of the Soviet Union's finest playwrights, whose work was often at odds with the Soviet State. This volume brings together his major dramatic achievements, including The White Guard, Madame Zoyka, Flight, Molière, Adam and Reissued to tie in with a new production of Flight adapted by Ron Hutchinson and performed at the Olivier, Royal National Theatre Mikhail Bulgakov was one of the Soviet Union's finest playwrights, whose work was often at odds with the Soviet State. This volume brings together his major dramatic achievements, including The White Guard, Madame Zoyka, Flight, Molière, Adam and Eve and The Last Days.Bulgakov is a much-studied author by schools, colleges and universities.


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Reissued to tie in with a new production of Flight adapted by Ron Hutchinson and performed at the Olivier, Royal National Theatre Mikhail Bulgakov was one of the Soviet Union's finest playwrights, whose work was often at odds with the Soviet State. This volume brings together his major dramatic achievements, including The White Guard, Madame Zoyka, Flight, Molière, Adam and Reissued to tie in with a new production of Flight adapted by Ron Hutchinson and performed at the Olivier, Royal National Theatre Mikhail Bulgakov was one of the Soviet Union's finest playwrights, whose work was often at odds with the Soviet State. This volume brings together his major dramatic achievements, including The White Guard, Madame Zoyka, Flight, Molière, Adam and Eve and The Last Days.Bulgakov is a much-studied author by schools, colleges and universities.

30 review for Six Plays (World Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Chronology Introduction, by Lesley Milne --The White Guard --Madame Zoyka --Flight --Moliere --Adam and Eve --The Last Days

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    In his lifetime, Mikhail Bulgakov was known as the author of only one play, The White Guard, the theatrical adaptation of his first novel. His other works were subjected to an ongoing vituperative press campaign and the heavy hand of Soviet censorship. As Lesley Milne notes in the introduction to this volume, while Bulgakov’s plays have been available in the West since the mid-1970s:“the major productions, on which theatrical status is based, have to be rooted also in the dramatist’s own country In his lifetime, Mikhail Bulgakov was known as the author of only one play, The White Guard, the theatrical adaptation of his first novel. His other works were subjected to an ongoing vituperative press campaign and the heavy hand of Soviet censorship. As Lesley Milne notes in the introduction to this volume, while Bulgakov’s plays have been available in the West since the mid-1970s:“the major productions, on which theatrical status is based, have to be rooted also in the dramatist’s own country, in performances of world class in his native language, produced by directors steeped in the traditions of the dramatist himself. Piece by piece ‘the theatre of Mikhail Bulgakov’ has indeed been put together again, but his plays have been deprived of half a century of performance. The scenic authority which they would have acquired through major productions and revivals has still to be established.” In Six Plays, she has drawn together a collection of the “Master’s” work which showcases his impressive range as a dramatist, ranging from high drama to comic buffoonery and from farce to tragedy, often within the same play. The plays also highlight the themes that weave throughout Bulgakov’s work — duty and courage, risk and gambling, and the immortality of the artist.In Bulgakov’s novel The White Guard, the story of the Turbin family plays out against the shifting backdrops of Kiev during the Ukrainian Civil War, but in its theatrical incarnation it has been reduced to a drawing-room drama. My favourite character, the hapless Lariosik, the country cousin from Zhitomir who arrives at the Turbins’ and is astonished to find that he is not expected, despite his mother sending a 63-word telegram, arrives with far less drama — without his caged pet bird and without accidentally breaking most of the family’s best china. The Turbins, too, have become watered down: as Will Self, reviewing a London production of the play noted:“Their political standpoints become flattened into a series of attitudes: the Turncoat, the Chameleon, the Loyalist, and so on.”However, Stalin supported the play, reportedly seeing it at least 15 times, because he liked the idea that Bolshevism had destroyed such a strong enemy as the Turbins.Bulgakov adopted a strikingly different tone in his next play, Zoyka’s Apartment, the riotous story of a high-class brothel operating behind the front of a Moscow dressmaker’s salon, and some minor characters who deal morphine and cocaine behind the front of their Chinese laundry. The play reads like a French farce; even the stage directions are humorous, as Zoyka “takes a magnificent pair of trousers out of the wardrobe”.Bulgakov’s play Flight takes up where The White Guard left off, opening during the last hours of the Ukrainian Civil War and following the defeated and escaping Whites into exile, firstly to Constantinople, then to Paris.The play deftly switches from nightmarish horror in a scene at a train station when a blast of gunfire causes the ice-crusted windows to shatter, revealing the bodies of two men hanging from the platform lampposts, to black humour; to high farce as the Whites, exiled in Constantinople, take part in cockroach races; to pathos as the homesick central character, Roman Khludov, wonders if he can ever return to Russia.Bulgakov’s virtuosity as a playwright is also evident in Molière, as the mood switches from farce, to horror, to buffoonery and ends in tragedy as the titular character, a broken man, dies onstage during a performance of Le Malade Imaginaire.The ongoing press campaigns against Bulgakov’s plays and persecution from the censors led him to identify with Molière, who he said was “crushed by a black cabal of hypocrites with the complete connivance of the absolute, stifling power of the king”. Lesley Milne explains that, while the real Molière was taken ill onstage and died at home a few hours later, Bulgakov had him die onstage, “surrounded by the characters of his creation and thus the pledge of his immortality.”When a Leningrad theatre commissioned Bulgakov to write “a play about a future war”, he chose a future in which germ warfare has killed most of the populace. Despite its grim theme, Bulgakov injects Adam and Eve with dry humour. After the characters set up camp on the edge of a forest, Zakhar Markizov complains that he is bored, so Ponchik-Nepobeda, a writer, offers to read from the unpublished manuscript he always carries with him. Skewering the kind of writing which could have brought him commercial success, Bulgakov has Markizov respond:“… when it’s ‘good literature’, like yours, it’s nothing but ‘Hey Vanya, Vanya’, nothing but collective farms and tractor-drivers working overtime for no pay.”The hero of the piece, Professor Yefrosimov, develops an antidote to the germ warfare and idealistically declares:“I suppose, in order to save mankind from disaster, an invention like that should be given to every country simultaneously.” As Lesley Milne points out:“There was no chance of such a play being performed in the isolationist Soviet Union of the 1930s and the subsequent half-century.”The last play in this collection, The Last Days, about the death of Alexander Pushkin, is a return to a more conventional dramatic form. Lesley Milne notes that, like Molière, Pushkin was always important to Bulgakov as “an affirmation of the triumph of art”.Milne concludes that it is a wonder that Bulgakov did not choose the fame that was on offer in his time for writing on the topical themes of the day, such as industrialisation and collectivisation — or as the hack writer in Adam and Eve put it, “the fresh, pink cheeks of collective-farm peasants”. Instead, he “remained stubbornly true to his own themes, at the price of non-publication and non-performance”. She hopes that this collection of his plays will “finally establish their theatrical authority on the English-speaking stage.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eric Hinkle

  4. 5 out of 5

    Red_harlequin

  5. 5 out of 5

    Twig

  6. 5 out of 5

    Edgar Alvarez

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dror Elkvity

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liv

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anton Relin

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rui

  13. 4 out of 5

    Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linda White

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ken B

  16. 4 out of 5

    Flori Toader

  17. 5 out of 5

    Inna

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard Pollitt

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julien Daniel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben Nadler

  21. 5 out of 5

    Oscar Joachim

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lara Biyuts

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maren

  24. 4 out of 5

    Greta Macionytė

  25. 4 out of 5

    Illreadandignorant85

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lera Auerbach

  27. 4 out of 5

    Oxana

  28. 5 out of 5

    Victor

  29. 4 out of 5

    Frances Marley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Boris

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