from Under Western Eyes

Excerpt from the stage adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel (1911)
Jared Weir as Razumov; James Forsythe as Inspector Mikulin
Recorded on May 15, 2009

This scene portrays an interrogation between the characters of Razumov, a university student, and Mikulin, an inspector with the Russian secret police in St. Petersburg. Razumov has been summoned to meet with the Inspector after having gone to the police to turn in a fellow student and anarchist — Haldin — for assassinating a government minister.

On the day of the assassination, Razumov arrives home at his apartment to find Haldin hiding out from the police. Razumov promises to help Haldin escape, but instead he betrays his friend and goes directly to the police. He will have to deal privately with the fact that he betrayed his friend, but he believes that the matter will end there. Razumov does not anticipate that he will be forced to deal with the secret police, as well. The actors performing in this recording are Jared Weir in the role of the student Razumov and James Forsythe in the role of Inspector Mikulin. The sound technician is Derek Gunnlaugson. The recording took place on May 15, 2009.

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(Lights up. Music fades)
Razumov: An officer brought me your summons. I came at once.
Mikulin: Very good.
Razumov: But I expected to see the General.
Mikulin: I'm Inspector Mikulin.
Razumov: Clearly there's been a misunderstanding. I've already met with the General.
Mikulin: Yes, I know.
Razumov: I've met him twice in the past week. He assured me that our interviews had come to an end.
Mikulin: I believe that they have.
Razumov: You're aware that I'm a student. I'm working very hard—as if nothing has happened. It's been impossible.
Mikulin: I understand. (He goes to Haldin)
Razumov: I've given you everything I know. I've given you Haldin. What more do you want?
Mikulin: Mr. Razumov—
Razumov: What more do you want from me?
Mikulin: Mr. Razumov.
(He waits)
We have taken an interest in your case.
Razumov: You call it my case. It has nothing to do with me.
Mikulin: Please listen. I don't view this meeting as strictly official.
Razumov: You requested my presence.
Mikulin: We wouldn't call you this way . . .
Razumov: If I were a suspect.
Mikulin: No, that's right. We would proceed quite differently.
Razumov: I've had my apartment searched.
Mikulin: I'm aware of that.
Razumov: Two full days after Haldin's arrest. What were you looking for? I could have destroyed anything that might have compromised me.
Mikulin: I can see that you're angry.
Razumov: I'm a reasonable man.
Mikulin: A thinker.
Razumov: That's not a forbidden word, as far as I know.
Mikulin: Why should it be forbidden? The principal goal is to think correctly. I admit that you've been left to yourself. You're at the mercy of every impulse that comes along. Religious belief, for instance.
Razumov: Haldin said he believed in God.
Mikulin: Is that so? That's more than our questioners could obtain. He told us almost nothing. The report reads: "He refuses to answer." Page after page. I've been given a mission, you see.
Razumov: To do what?
Mikulin: I've been asked to make further investigations. But Haldin has left me nothing to begin with.
Razumov: Then you're beginning with me.
Mikulin: You say that he was religious. I suppose you spoke with him frequently on the matter.
Razumov: No, not at all. He would talk, and I would listen. That's hardly a conversation.
Mikulin: Listening is a great art.
Razumov: Making people talk is another.
Mikulin: He was interrogated relentlessly. Nothing could induce him to talk. Even when your name was mentioned.
Razumov: You gave him my name? I never agreed to that. The General said Haldin wouldn't be told.
Mikulin: This is a case of great importance. It was deemed necessary. Surely you can understand that.
Razumov: But what about the report?
Mikulin: Your name has been omitted. Even the judges weren't given your name. Do you see? We've taken every measure to protect you.
Razumov: What did he say?
Mikulin: Pardon me?
Razumov: When my name was mentioned, what did Haldin say?
Mikulin: Yes, of course, you want to know his response.
Razumov: Well?
Mikulin: He refused to reply.
Razumov: What was he asked?Mikulin: He was asked about your prior knowledge.
Razumov: About what?
Mikulin: About his intention to commit a terrorist act. He refused to answer.
Razumov: He knows about my involvement with you. He knows what I did. I'm responsible.
Mikulin: You were being loyal to the people.
Razumov: Yes, the people.
Mikulin: No one doubts the moral soundness of your actions. Yet I'm curious about something.
Razumov: What's that?
Mikulin: Why did Haldin go to you?
Razumov: I've explained it to the General. Haldin trusted me.
Mikulin: Yes, but why did he confide in you? He could have said nothing at all. Unless he wanted you to help him­­ in some other way, I mean.
Razumov: I gave him food—and something to drink.
Mikulin: Did you?
Razumov: That was my pretext.
Mikulin: For what?
Razumov: For leaving him.
Mikulin: To get him something to eat and drink.
Razumov: That's right.
Mikulin: But you were really going to the police.
Razumov: Yes.
Mikulin: You went straight to the police?
Razumov: What are you suggesting?
Mikulin: You didn't go anywhere else.
Razumov: Of course not. Where else would I go?
Mikulin: Perhaps you went to arrange his ride—with the peasant.
Razumov: He'd already made the arrangement. Look. I've explained it all to the General. Why don't you read his report?
Mikulin: Come now, Mr. Razumov. I'm not trying to provoke you. I'm trying to understand your dilemma.
Razumov: What dilemma?
Mikulin: What did you feel inside? How did he make you feel? This man throws himself at your mercy. He puts his very life in your hands. Why didn't you help him?
Razumov: Help him? How could I help him? I felt my life ending. I'd be charged with the same crime. What a miserable fate—to be falsely accused. No. If I had to suffer, then I'd suffer for my convictions.
Mikulin: Yet he trusted you with his life.
Razumov: But consider his crime. It's true he spoke about God. The divine soul. The end of injustice. I saw it in his eyes. I could see where his revolution began. But wherewould it end? With the suffering of thousands? Of millions? Don't you see? I had to betray him.
Mikulin: But you didn't betray him.
Razumov: Is that right?
Mikulin: Yes, you can only betray your conscience. I think you were being courageous.
Razumov: Is that what you think?
Mikulin: Yes. By coming forward, you've shown that you love your country. You have made a great sacrifice—on behalf of your fellow citizens. That's what we call patriotism.
Razumov: So I'm a patriot.
Mikulin: Yes. You've rejected a very attractive error.
Razumov: The revolution.
Mikulin: Exactly. You've embraced the Russian truth. Power must be preserved in the single man. The great leader.
Razumov: Why are you telling me this? Are you testing me? Let me explain something. I'm patriotic because I was born Russian. I think like a Russian. No socialist revolution could make me any more free. Yet if I'm not mistaken, I think you suspect me. You think that I'm lying. You think that you're dealing with Haldin's accomplice.Mikulin: Why would you say that? I've spoken to the General. I've read his report. And I can inform you that I assisted in searching your apartment.
Razumov: What did you find?
Mikulin: I looked through your papers. I was greatly impressed.
Razumov: Please, Inspector. Don't mock me. I'm in your power, as you well know. I'm your prey. You can send me straight from this room to Siberia.
Mikulin: Yes, but what purpose would there be in that? As I've already said, I'm conducting further investigations. You underestimate your own importance.
Razumov: I don't understand.
Mikulin: You're a man who inspires confidence. Clearly, Haldin sensed it.
Razumov: He was mistaken. I've had nothing but contempt for his views.
Mikulin: He misread you then. What were your true feelings? When you left him in your apartment, what were you thinking?
Razumov: I hated him. I saw him seated in my apartment—waiting faithfully for me to return. There was a moment when I wanted him dead. I wanted to kill him myself.
Mikulin: But why?Razumov: Because I felt there was no escape. My life was ruined. It would be changed irrevocably. Who would believe me?
Mikulin: Then you've discovered something, haven't you?
Razumov: What.
Mikulin: That we have believed you.
Razumov: As you say. But that can all change.
Mikulin: How do you mean?
Razumov: Haldin has refused to speak. But suppose he changes his mind? He knows that I told the police where he'd be that night. Don't you see? He could destroy me with a few simple lies. Did you think about that when you gave him my name?
Mikulin: Don't forget. You were the one who came to us. Why would we take his word over yours?
Razumov: Why not? Then you'd have me in your control, as well. You could put us in the same cell.
Mikulin: Now you're being unreasonable.
Razumov: Am I? I suppose we'll find out when you question him again.
Mikulin: There won't be any more questions. You're quite safe.Razumov: I don't believe you. You haven't finished with him yet.
Mikulin: I'm afraid that we have. The chaplain saw him today. He called on the prisoner to repent. He exhorted Haldin to make a full confession.
Haldin refused to atone for his crime. We saw no reason to delay the execution. It was set for this afternoon. The order was sent by telegraph—I wrote the order myself. He was hanged this afternoon.
Razumov: I see. Then he is truly gone.
Mikulin: Yes.
Razumov: Very well.
(Razumov turns to leave. He's at the point of leaving)
Mikulin: Come now—where are you going?
Razumov: You've conveyed the news. I expect that the press will be informed.
Mikulin: That's right. But you needn't worry. Your involvement will be kept from the public.
Razumov: I should thank you for that.
Mikulin: You're a young man with promise.
Razumov: Why would you say that? Why did you call me here? You wanted to see me. Yes, of course, you knew that I would come. You have the right—I mean, the power to summons me.
Mikulin: The General wanted me to become personally acquainted with you. Your service has been invaluable.
Razumov: But, really, Inspector, I must take my leave. Please allow me to... retire.
Mikulin: To retire?
Razumov: Yes.
Mikulin: But where to? Where could you possibly go?
Razumov: What do you mean by that?
Mikulin: For a man like you, such a position is impossible. I understand your liberalism. I have an intellect much like your own. Reform is mainly a question of method. The idea of revolt is a kind of physical hysteria which must be suppressed. You agree with these principles, don't you? Yes, because you understand that isolation or indifference is very nearly a political crime.
Razumov: You'll be watching me. That's what you mean, isn't it?
Mikulin: No. I don't mean to have you watched.
(He approaches Razumov. He shakes hands with him)
Let me thank you. Now, good­bye, Mr. Razumov.
Razumov: Then I won't be needed any more.
Mikulin: You're going away now—of your own accord. But I predict you'll be coming back.
Razumov: But for what reason?
Mikulin: You've been put directly into our hands. We must make that occurrence our affair. I'm speaking about your future.
Razumov: My future.
Mikulin: Yes. Would you like to talk about that?
Razumov: Yes, I would.
Mikulin: All right. Then consider your dealings with Haldin.
Razumov: I had no dealings with him.
Mikulin: Perhaps not. Yet he trusted you. He sought your confidence. You're aware of our need for absolutely reliable information.
Razumov: What kind of information?
Mikulin: From the "inner circles," of course.
Razumov: From the anarchists.
Mikulin: We'll establish your complicity with Haldin. They will believe that you were his comrade. That you took part in the bombing. That you escaped. In short, you will become one of them.
Razumov: That's impossible.
Mikulin: That's fine. I won't detain you any longer. But you will return—of your own volition. You will be convinced, I assure you.
(He places a fatherly hand on Razumov's shoulder)
You will feel a great loneliness. You will feel utterly alone. Then we will meet again. After all, who else do you have now—but me?
There's no one else you can speak to. Good­bye, my friend.
(Lights change. Music up)

Under Western Eyes had its premiere in Winnipeg at the Ragpickers Studio on May 26, 2006. The show was produced by Root Sky Productions for the 2006 MayWorks Festival: Labour & the Arts. It included the following cast and crew:

Kirylo Razumov: Jared Weir
Gregory Mikulin: James Forsythe
Natalie Haldin: Stephanie Buri
Victor Haldin: Matthew McDonald
Sophia Antonovna: Sherry Phillips

Director: Dale Lakevold
Assistant Director: Michael Bell
Stage Manager: Angela Wilson

Dale Lakevold is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Canadian Literature at Brandon University, and program head of the BU Creative Writing program.

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