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the russians!

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director ivo van hove
from tom lanoye
after anton tsjechov
duration 5:20, incl. 2 pauzes
premiere 19 Jun 2011


The Russians! - starring virtually the entire ensemble - is Tom Lanoye’s radical adaptation of Chekhov’s Ivanov and Platonov, in which the title’s heroes meet for the first time.


Ivanov feels trapped in a marriage with a Jewish woman. He dives into a romance with the younger Sasha. When his wife catches him with his mistress, she reacts furiously and dies. His feeling of uselessness increases and becomes a noose around his neck. Platonov, the village teacher, is married but this doesn’t stop him from courting a host of other women. His debauched lifestyle charms his friends for some time, but his credit slowly dwindles.

Ivo van Hove directs the portrait of a group of people that lashes out uncontrollably, seeks scapegoats and gives free rein to its frustrations out of an indefinable feeling of voidness and loss. The Russians! is a marathon performance in which the characters elbow one another aside, make each other’s lives miserable and finally burn out. The music is composed by Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL).


'De Russen! is certainly a leap forwards in terms of theatrical innovation. Ivo van Hove uses music, lighting effects, projections and sheer spectacle to convey the complex and often very subtle themes of the piece. His work is highly entertaining, but nevertheless does full justice to the text and content. Van Hove has proven that it is indeed possible to fill over five hours with theatrical perfection, leaving the audience trembling with excitement.' - NRC *****

‘Eighteen actors, each and every one a master of the craft (...) De Russen! is the strongest piece of political theatre to have been presented in years. It is Russian, English and Greek: a blend of Chekhov, Shakespeare and Aeschylus.’ - Knack *****

‘a peerless company of performers’ - Parool

‘Ivo van Hove has staged De Russen! as a constant cascade of confrontations. (...) Here is a director who understands the language of the large auditorium like no other.’ - De Morgen

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Adam 2015-10-24 10:21
Why oh why there is no recording of this show to preserve it for future generations to behold... I've seen it 4 years ago and the beauty of this show still haunts me (I'm not even mentioning the music which was just brilliant). I would love to see this show again.

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