As we know, it was Vsevolod Meyerhold who commissioned Mayakovsky to write the play ‘The Bathhouse’ for staging it at GosTIM (Meyerhold State Theatre). Addressing to the audience during discussions of ‘The Bathhouse’ in 1929, the former ranked the play equal to those of Moliere, Pushkin, Gogol: ‘This is a foremost occurrence in the history of Russian theatre art, a greatest happening, for which we must praise poet Mayakovsky. He contrived to yield us with an example of prose as masterful as verses… He is surely to start a new era’. Mayakovsky’s answer to the question of the title interpretation was ambiguous. Version #1, which remains a naïve and straightforward interpretation of the play as uncovering and exposing, is that ‘bathhouse is where bureaucrats are cleaned (or, simply, washed out)’. Version #2 is ‘bathhouse is the only thing missing there’.
Mayakovsky himself defined the genre of ‘The Bathhouse’ as ‘satirical play with circus and fireworks’. Therefore, satirical message of Nikolai Roshchin’s production is uncertain, lacks concrete and easily definable details. The message can also hardly be ascribed to any period in history, bearing certain soul of macabre. It is no coincidence though, that performance begins with the scene of performance approval by the Arts Council and its interrogations of misunderstood and ostracized theatre director – a scene that truly brings 1920s plot close to present days.
Premiered on January 25, 2017