Love so strong: “A wife of a genius” in the Meyerhold Theatre Centre

Perhaps, every girl once thought about how she would live her life if she met a genius and married him.

I got interested in this play mainly because of its name. Perhaps, every girl once thought about how she would live her life if she met a genius and married him. Well, then I say straight, this play doesn’t cultivate any illusions of absolute happiness with a great man. But if you want to get inspiration from bright stories of true love, you are definitely welcome!

On the stage filled with water to the very first row, there are several aits. Heroines are moving between them and meeting their heroes in a small room which is far away. That very room, where they will build their family life and say goodbye-forevers. The five heroines are: Natalia Goncharova, Anna Snitkina (Dostoyevskaya), Elena Nurenberg (Bulgakova), Sofia Bers (Tolstaya) and Olga Knipper-Chekhova. The stage is decorated beautifully, but laconically – nothing distracts audience attention. It’s important to say, that although the director Daniil Chaschin and the dramatist Elena Isaeva don’t insist on a historical authenticity, they still were picking all the words from diaries, letters and memoirs. Not everyone reads biographies of great writers, so it’s very interesting to hear their stories almost first-hand.

The main intrigue of the performance is to find out, which one of the women will get the chance to reunite with her husband. An unknown voice gives them the task: they need to prove, that their love is the strongest one and they deserve the right of getting the husband back. Each woman starts telling her love story based on how they met, how they lived after their marriage and the death of the husband. Of course, all the stories are different – in fact, these women had nothing in common, except for the fact, that they were wives of the most important Russian writers. But when the play is coming to an end, you stop choosing the person, which is closer to you, who you feel sorry and who you like most. Because there is still something very important, connecting them together – they all tell us about mutual True Love.


Yes, I guess, the word “mutual” is the most important here. The well-known proverb says, that behind every great man there's a great woman and I definitely agree with it as well as with saying: “a woman is only happy in her marriage, when she feels support from her husband”. The wives of Dostoyevskiy, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Chekhov and even Pushkin had lots of different domestic problems, they suffered from poverty, misunderstanding, problems with children – their life seemed to be a big challenge. But thinking about their husbands, they say not a single bad word. Their eyes are sparkling, as if they’ve just met their loves and they seem to be ready to live their lives again from the beginning to the very end. Isn’t it the proof of the genius of their flames? Isn’t it genius – to live with a woman so that she would like to follow you into eternity?

After the play I was thinking, what is “a wife of a genius” for me? On the one hand, all these women are just saint. They are ready to sacrifice their beauty, money, health, life – everything to support their husbands. I know personally, what it is to live with a genius, not in a sphere of literature though, but I think, that every girl understands, that those general’s wives are happy, who are ready to go with their generals around garrisons first. Being not only your man’s amie and muse, but also a friend and companion is hard, but who says it can’t be a real happiness? All the women from the play go through their challenges quietly, with love and dignity.


I loved how it’s told by the director in a brochure for this play: “Love is the strongest instinct. And when a person is in love, all congenital generosity and pureness blossom out in his soul. You are aware of the pain you let get into your life and life is still a miracle, no matter how hard it can be sometimes.” I was thinking about the strength of this “instinct”, which is common for all of us, during all the play. I didn’t manage to choose only one story of those women. Heroines come to the same conclusion: how can just one story of true love be chosen? And this solidarity between women is nicely to see.

Today we are all so emancipated, free to choose what to do and who to love, that it’s really important for us to look around sometimes, to see what was life like 100 years ago, how women of those times could combine gentle femality with dour self-sacrifice. You don’t have to live their experience through, but you definitely need to make some conclusions. If these writers’ works are constantly making us think about our lives, why can’t their real stories do so?


Where to watch: Meyerhold Theatre Centre, Moscow

When: June, 9

Director: Daniil Chaschin

Starring: Evgeniya Vays, Anna Osipova, Anna Petrosyan, Margarita Tolstoganova, Nikolay Shatokhin, Veronika Timofeyeva

Text Марина