A unique new show that's inspired by a Tolstoy classic, "Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812," plays out inside a Russian supper club created just for this production. Time Out New York contributing critic David Cote filed the following review.
Like many, I've never read Leo Tolstoy's "War And Peace." It's on the bucket list along with Proust and "Finnegan's Wake." However, after seeing "Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812," I feel extra compelled to crack open the classic. This astonishing new musical adapts a 70-page section of the book, mashing up imperialist Russia and an eclectic range of styles, turning Tolstoy into a swoon-worthy, vodka-soaked party.
The brainchild of composer-lyricist-performer Dave Malloy and director Rachel Chavkin, this piece is set in a cabaret space called Kazino, an ad hoc Russian nightclub where you can down shots of vodka and nibble pierogies.
The year is 1812, the setting is Moscow. The story concerns the beautiful, young Natasha, engaged to Prince Andrey, fighting Napoleon at the front lines. Natasha and her cousin Sonya move to Moscow, where they are awed by the city's glamour. Womanizing heel Anatole sets his sights on seducing Natasha. Meanwhile, Pierre, a disillusioned minor aristocrat with a faithless wife, wallows in idleness. Who will save Natasha? Will innocence survive corruption?
Malloy's music is heartbreakingly beautiful, ranging from punkish versions of Russian folk, Tom Waits-style blues, electronica and plaintive indie pop.
It's a sensual, wild ride: rollicking music, beautiful singing, a feast for the eye, ear and mouth. Also the young cast is phenomenal: newcomer Phillipa Soo as Natasha, Lucas Steele as Anatole and Malloy himself as a boozy and bluesy accordion-squeezing Pierre.
You don't have to know "War And Peace" to enjoy this immersive extravaganza, but in the end I guarantee you will feel closer to a great piece of literature.