Radio Culture presents the life of a Belarusian everyman | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Radio Culture presents the life of a Belarusian everyman

Maxim Dosko's play makes its U.S. debut at TUTA Theatre.


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Volodya (Kevin V. Smith) is an ordinary young man. He lives with his parents in Minsk, Belarus, works as a construction-site foreman, and daydreams while listening to the radio. His life is utterly unremarkable, as demonstrated by the episodic vignettes from his typical workday that make up the U.S. premiere of Maxim Dosko's quotidian drama, in a new translation by Natalia Fedorova and Amber Robinson (who also directed).

Smith narrates and is the only speaking member of the cast. The "stage" is an unfinished, sheetrocked room with a plywood floor, cinder blocks, floodlights, and movable scaffolding as its only decor. Yet every inch of the space is utilized in an evocative way, starting from the first glimpse of Smith, hunched high up, within an exposed vent. As he goes through the mundane tasks of his work shift, checking that his workmen aren't too drunk to do their tasks and dealing with bureaucracy from the management, Volodya periodically drifts off to thoughts of the future. But like his waking life, his dreams are simple. He debates whether to buy his mother an electric meat grinder or splurge on a fancy food processor.

Smith's portrayal of this everyman isn't flashy but is affecting, especially in the way that he intentionally makes eye contact with audience members while telling Volodya's story. Dosko is able to make a memorable drama out of a sequence of events that, on the face of it, are utterly forgettable. And that is what makes Volodya's ordinary day extraordinary.   v

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