Bel Ami is a two-hour play by Yuri Dachev that traces the events of the eponymous novel by Guy de Maupassant. The director is Bina Haralampieva, and the main actors are entrusted to Kalin Vrachanski, Louisa Grigorova, Gerasim Georgiev - Gero and Vasilena Atanasova. Also participating are Peter Kalchev, Vasil Banov, Alisa Atanasova, Tanya Pashankova and Hristina Karaivanova.
The Bel Ami action takes us on a dramatic walk through French society in the 70 and 80 years of the XIX century. The plot follows the personal path of the protagonist Georges Duroa, an attractive but poor provincial who arrives in Paris, driven by the ambition to get rid of poverty once and for all - to wear expensive clothes and be accepted into the aristocracy. With the help of his friend, he gets a job as a journalist in a well-known French newspaper. But hard work and writer's talent are qualities that Durois lacks. His only weapon is the extraordinary charisma that makes him irresistible to women. And gradually, a variety of married ladies from the elite fall into the trap of his charm.
Each love affair takes him one step further up the ladder to money, social prestige and political power. The deeper Durois enters the elite of Paris, the more corrupt his soul becomes. From a naive dreamer, he becomes a calculating, insidious, greedy and unscrupulous man, ready to crush anyone who gets in his way.
Another strong embodiment of Kalin Vrachanski
Inspiring the life of Georges Duroa, Kalin Vrachanski makes another memorable performance. This is his seventh theatrical incarnation that I am delighted to experience. His previous appearances that managed to touch me are in The Raven (also under the direction of Bina Haralampieva) and Schiller's Insidiousness of Love. Vrachanski is extremely good at building multi-layered images on stage. I am left with the impression that with every role his talent is taking new heights. At Bel Ami, he manages to stay close enough to the original image of Mopassan, adding a particle of himself that makes the performance more spectacular.
Dissection of a sick society
Bell Ami's play focuses not so much on the protagonist's personal change, but on the problem of rising into an environment driven solely by people's self-interest, the pursuit of money and power, and sex, as a direct way to achieving those goals. The motive for the insidious magician, who seduces wealthy ladies, is a prominent place among the elite.
At Bel Ami, Maupassant has reached gloomy insights on society in the nineteenth century, and here, two centuries later, these problems sound more current than ever. That's why performance and brilliant acting have such a strong impact on viewers.
The cast of the other actors - worthy of a round of applause
Kalin Vrachanski's captivating game is complemented by the amazing Gerasim Georgiev - Hero. He plays Walter, the owner of the newspaper, where Duroa begins work and takes the first steps toward rapprochement with the top elite. The viewer sees Walter as an arrogant cynic, with a soul long corrupted by greed. What slightly distances him from the novel's protagonist are some delicately inserted Balkan nuances that actually make his character more contemporary and authentic.
Vasil Atanasova is the one who seems to be able to touch the audience the most. Her character, wandering in an endless maze of thoughts and anguish, alternating between foolishness and longing for deceitful love, gives the show a particularly emotional boost. Her incarnation in Natalie Walter is striking with her deep drama in which she clearly displays her talent for sculpting full-blooded and impactful images. Well-deservedly her play wins the roaring applause of the audience at the finale. Not coincidentally precisely for the role of Natalie, Vasilena received a nomination for the "Askeer 2016" award in the category "Supporting female role".
Louise Grigorova sprays charm and talent in the role of Madeleine Forest. It comes under the skin of a beautiful and sensible lady of a rich family, who is characterized by a quick mind and measured behavior. Her duet with Vrachanski is key to the plot's unfolding.
Until the very end of the play, all the characters remain hopelessly trapped in the insidious embrace of a morally declining society riddled with greed, hypocrisy, lies and selfish ambitions.
If it were not for the costumes referring to France in the 19th century, we can safely conclude that events are developing in our time. So topical, it hurts. This is the magic of theater - it makes you think about which side of the moral line you stand on, while at the same time pointing out which one is correct.