History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Russian Post-WWII

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Aleksei Arbuzov[edit]

Aleksei Arbuzov described the prevalent chaos during the bombing of Leningrad

One of the main figures of late 20th century Russian drama is Aleksei Arbuzov (1908-1980), particularly with "Мой бедный Марат" (My poor Marat, 1965).

"My poor Marat"[edit]

Marat discovers Lika in his apartment during the bombing of Leningrad by Nazi Germany

Time: 1942-1959. Place: Leningrad, Russia.

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Amid the 1942 bombing of Leningrad, a young man, Marat, discovers a stranger, 15-year-old Lika, living in his almost derelict apartment. Lika had been living with her nanny while her mother was out at the front as an army doctor when their house was struck by a bomb and nothing was left. He permits her to remain and takes her to the city service center where he works so that she can be of use to others. One day, a frozen and exhausted youth, Leonidik, bursts into the apartment and collapses unconscious before the fire. He recovers and all three learn to live together. One day, Marat returns to the apartment with his arm bound because of a knife-wound, the result, he says, of an encounter with a German soldier whom he subdued, a lie Lika notes as he dresses it, because the wound does not resemble a knife-cut. Lika starts work at a hospital as Marat becomes dissatisfied with a life between the three of them and instead joins the army as an aviator. Four years later, Lika is still living at the same apartment as a medical student when Leonidik arrives from the war with an artificial arm. Over the course of two weeks, Lika becomes distraught at the lack of news from Marat at a time when he unexpectedly shows up, so that the three of them begin once more to live together. Nevertheless, over the course of five weeks, Marat suggests to Leonidik that he move away because Lika does not love him. Leonidik suggests that they should ask her about that. Instead, Marat decides to move away to Saratov. "And you?" Lika asks Leonidik. "I'll only go if you send me away," he answers. Lika and Leonidik decide to marry, she at work as a medical doctor, he as a teacher and writer. After receiving no news from him for thirteen years, Marat unexpectedly shows up again. He has built bridges, has married, but is unhappy and quickly surmises that Lika and Leonidik are unhappy, too. "I lost you and I lost everything," Marat tells Lika. "How is it all going to work out now?" "As before, only better," Lika answers. It is now Leonidik who decides to leave. "I just haven't justified your hopes," he declares to her. "You put so much on me. You even forgot yourself. But it was all for nothing." After he leaves, she looks out the window and sees him alone in the street. "Just don't pity him," Marat advises. "You must believe in him again, Lika." "Only don't be afraid to be happy," she answers, "don't be afraid, my poor Marat."