Bound by Duty
Moscow’s Theater of Nations is currently staging Peter Morgan’s play “The Audience” with resounding success. For whoever isn’t aware, a similar production is making a splash on the stages of London. The plot turns on an old tradition of the English monarchs, who — starting with Queen Victoria — began meeting with their prime ministers in order to discuss the country’s internal and foreign affairs each Tuesday at precisely 6:30 pm (I adore this English precision). The heroine, Queen Elizabeth II, has routine discussions with Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, and so on down the list. Twelve prime ministers fall within the timeframe of the play. In actual fact, with the arrival of Theresa May it’s thirteen. And that is, as is well known, a record. But the story isn’t about the longevity of members of the Windsor family, and not even about the splendor of the British court. It’s about service. It’s about the ability to prioritize things that are more important than anything else. In one of her monologues, Elizabeth passionately admits through the lips of actress Inna Churikova that the most important moment of her life was not her marriage or the birth of her children, but rather the rainy day, June 2 1953, when she was coronated.
Service — the commitment to one duty — is a theme that has always interested me. How does a person manage to tame his pride and curb his vanity? How to find the motivation to do the same job from one year to the next, throughout your whole life? How is it possible not to get bored? I thought about this seriously for the first time when I was in a curious situation. As a matter of duty, one often has to visit Milan. There was a wonderful place there, the restaurant Bagutta. It’s famous for many things. According to legend, famous artists and poets gathered in the restaurant, which is why the atmosphere there is, frankly speaking, bohemian: the walls are covered with poems and painted