Andriyivsky’s Funniest Monument


Many foreign tourists walking from the centre of Kyiv to Podil down Andriyivsky Uzviz are stunned by a humorous and eye-catching monument at the very top of the street. What they see is a gentleman standing on his knee and offering his hand to a very funny lady, who, in turn, gives her hand for the gentleman to kiss.

The couple are the leading characters of the play by the famous Ukrainian playwright Mykhailo Starytsky “Chasing Two Hares”, Svyryd Holokhvostyi, a cunning yet totally broke barber who dreams of breaking through to the high society, and Pronia Sirko, an unrefined and unattractive daughter of a local merchant. The story takes places in the 1880s and ridicules the life of Kyiv’s commoners trying to speak Russian at the expense of their native Ukrainian. What’s more, being chased by his creditors, Svyryd decides to marry Pronia and thus sort out his material problems. However, the sly fox meets Pronia’s beautiful cousin Halia and tries courting her as well. But as they say, if you chase two hares, you will lose them both…

The faces of the monument’s characters are the exact doubles of the actors starring in the “Chasing Two Hares” 1961 Soviet comedy film based on the eponymous play, Oleg Borisov and Marharyta Krynytsyna. When the monument was unveiled in August 1999, all Marharyta Krynytsyna could say was “Hello, Svyryd!”, so stunned she was by the resemblance of the monument to the actors. Sadly, the other “face”, Oleg Borisov, was no longer among the living at the time.

Marharyta Krynytsyna, whom I had the pleasure of knowing, told me the film was originally dubbed in Ukrainian, for it was initially filmed to be screened on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR only. However, the success of “Chasing Two Hares” was so overwhelming that it was later dubbed into Russian and shown all over the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian versions of the film were largely lost, so the discovery of the original Ukrainian dubbing seven year ago was a true miracle! Now we can watch the legendary motion picture in our native language.

Pleasing the eyes of both Kyivites and tourists, the monument already has its very own rituals. For instance, there is a stag beetle on Svyryd’s back, and you should touch it if you want to have a close-nit and happy family. The “stony” Pronia has a ring on the pointer finger of her left hand, and those ladies who want to have a successful marriage should rub it. Last but not least, Svyryd’s and Pronia’s noses have been rubbed by the tourists to such an extent that they are incredibly shiny. Perhaps this is a ritual native Kyivites know nothing of…

“Chasing Two Hares” was one of the most popular plays in Kyiv’s Youth Theatre for quite a while and launched the career of Ukrainian actress Tamara Yatsenko as Pronia. Actually, there is also a 2003 TV version of the play starring the Russian pop diva Alla Pugacheva. At the end of 2003, the three actresses, Marharyta Krynytsyna, Tamara Yatsenko, and Alla Pugacheva, met in the Chasing Two Hares restaurant in Kyiv. The event also featured Polina Lazova, a Ukrainian actress who played Pronia in Ivan Franko Theatre. Considering the name, that was an obvious place for such a starry meeting… As for those who want to see “Chasing Two Hares” on stage now, feel free to visit Kyiv National Academic Theatre of Operetta and enjoy a breathtaking musical version of the legendary play starring Arsen Kurbanov as Svyryd Holokhvostyi.


View More

On our site we use cookies (and these are not cookies), which make it more convenient for each user. By visiting the pages of the site, you agree to our Privacy Policy. For more information on the Policy and what cookies are needed for and how you can stop collecting cookies, click here.