Oleg Denisov is like a river. Words, thoughts, concepts flow practically uninterrupted for approximately one hour. What is he talking about? Trolls? Yes and no. His show is not just filled with brilliant jokes about Russian politics, philosophy and cultural differences, it feeds on the self-analysis of the author, and the fil rouge is a simple statement: “I think reality is overrated.”
The conflict between reality and fiction can be found in practically every joke, and when the second one finally comes out, that’s where the laughs nest. It’s not just a hymn to storytelling, it also pinpoints one of the most intriguing problems of modern society: is it really “reality” the filter that we need to use to understand anything in the ocean of information we dive in?
Oleg Denisov is Russian, perceivable in the jokes he chooses to tell and his way of telling them. Denisov spends two-thirds of the show, comically outlining a dissertation about classical Russian literature to raucous laughter. His vision of Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy however, is not a mere desecration of the concept of “classic”, it resembles a gift that he gives to the audience. He donates them a new perspective of those authors based on the clear binomial: you read them as classical, you live them as classical. If you give so much power to classics, how can you even think about understanding your own times?
If the show isn’t perfect, it’s only because it needs a little bit of oiling around the edges. The occasional slip up estranges the audience from what the show needs to really dig in full immersion and suspension of disbelief. All in all the show was hilarious and to an extent, educational.
Oleg Denisov: Russian Troll
Champions of Festival @ The Scotsman – Drawing Room (Venue 445)
Runs 6-26 August
Buy tickets here
Image: Champions of Festival