Shostakovich is playing. Stalin’s mother is showing us photos through a broken mirror. Stalin’s face is arresting and beautiful, far from the terrible face of later years. His face in the glass splinters recalls Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ where a man trades his soul to keep his beauty.
Wilde wrote that in Dorian’s face: “all the candor of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity.”
After years of wickedness Dorian’s face retains its beauty, but the picture in the attic withers, splits and moulds with every sin. That face is “wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colorless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.”
Introducing the show, Gjerji called it a Matryoshka doll, a way of reflecting reality. Do the years of evil show on Stalin’s face?