Tarantino comes to the Tallinn stage

  • 2007-08-08
  • Joel Alas

MR. PINK, MR. WHITE, MR. ORANGE: A screen shot from the film version of "Reservoir Dogs," which will be presented as a play, in Russian, at Tallinn's Vene Teater from Aug. 14.

TALLINN - How do you simulate cutting off a man's ear in front of a live theater audience? And what does it sound like when seven angry Russian men discuss the meaning of Madonna's "Like A Virgin?"
Tallinn's Vene Teater (Russian Theater) will break new ground when it presents a stage version of the cult film "Reservoir Dogs." It is believed to be the first time the classic Quentin Tarantino script has been presented as a play.

And although it is in Russian, the nature of the storyline means its dynamic edge should cross the language barrier.
In fact, some might argue that Tarantino's film noir style is even more suited to the passionate Russian tongue.
Aside from its action sequences, the storyline is highly suited to the stage. We meet the characters 's all gangsters with color-coded nicknames 's as they gather in a warehouse to discuss a bungled robbery.
The meat of the story is revealed through flashbacks, where we learn about how the robbery was planned, and how they were betrayed by a rat in their ranks.

"Reservoir Dogs" (it's called "Marukoerad" in Estonian) was hailed as a masterpiece of modern film noir upon its release in 1992. It was Tarantino's first film, and it introduced to the cinema world his trademark gritty style. It carried all the hallmarks we now recognize as Tarantino's signature 's a funky 70s soundtrack, hard-edged actors, fast-paced dialogue, and an undercurrent of comedy that offsets the violence.
However the play's director, Moscow-based Anna Trifonovoa, said she does not intend to imitate Tarantino.
"She didn't want to copy his style," Vene Teater spokeswoman Liidia Kaljundi said. "It's impossible and risky. It's her own version, and it's a bit more comic. The classic scenes are all still there, but they are represented in a different way. She uses a lot of symbols, and it is largely surrealistic."

Kaljundi said she believed the play would transcend language boundaries.
"It's possible to recognize the scenes if you have seen the movie. Language is not so important, anyway. At international theater festivals they never translate the plays, because the message should come through."
Kaljundi said the play is expected to draw quite a different audience to the Vene Teater, which normally stages more traditional productions.

"I expect we will have people aged over 28 who are more sophisticated, but still looking for some entertainment and action," she said.
Tarantino himself would have no issue with his script being shown on stage. Trained as an actor, he has appeared in several plays himself, including a Broadway production of the crime thriller "Wait Until Dark."
After working as a video store employee in Los Angeles, he penned "Reservoir Dogs" as his debut script.  But for the foresight of actor Harvey Keitel, "Reservoir Dogs" would never have been made. Tarantino had intended to shoot his script as a low-budget production which almost certainly wouldn't have made its way to a wider audience. Keitel saved the film by not only agreeing to star in it, but also by coming on board as its producer.

The film's position as a cult classic has been confirmed by the huge number of copycat productions spawned post release. It is also often subtly referenced in other films. Even "The Simpsons" paid tribute to Tarantino in an episode where Itchy and Scratchy recreate the film's famous ear-slicing scene.
Kaljundi is tight-lipped about how that particular sequence will be shown on stage. She tells us it's not "exactly the same" as the film, but is equally as riveting.

Reservoir Dogs (Marukoerad)
Vene Teater (Russian Theater), Vabaduse Valjak, Tallinn
Aug. 14, 15, 16