Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MESS festival, Sarajevo October 2008

The shows I saw in Sarajevo:

B. Brecht: The Respectable Wedding, CROATIA; POU Velika Gorica, Director: Paolo Magelli

This was the best show at the festival in my view. The acting was great, lightly directed and the set was excellent. The furniture was falling apart all over the place, in many unexpected ways. Weddings are frequently exploited as a place to have lots of comical confusion in dysfunctional families. This Brecht's play is the funniest take on the subject I've seen.

Strindberg: Miss Julie, BiH / CROATIA; MESS/HNK Ivan pl. Zajc, Director: Damir Zlatar Frey

Absolutely appalling!!!!! Probably the most pretentious play I've seen recently. In the program the director claims Miss Julie is about the violence on women!?!?! Makes you wonder what planet Damir Zlatar Frey is on. The play lasts about an hour, of which the opening scene, where Miss Julie and the butler attempt aimlessly to display their affection through some bizarre sex, lasts 15 minutes. I haven't seen any other Damir Zlatar Frey's work, but judging by Miss Julie, and some comments I've heard about his other work, he is a director to be avoided unless you like to see pointless nudity and sex on the stage. The acting wasn't any better and the only thing I liked was the music, but this doesn't warrant going to see the play.

Monsters and Prodigies, MEXICO; Teatro De Ciertos Habitantes, Director: Claudio Valdes Kuri

An unusual play about the history of castrati. There was a fat long haired Mexican scaring people from the doors at the back of the stage (funny). There was a castrato (as you'd expected in a play about castrati), two talking heads that were acting like they are a single body (clever) and there was a pianist (brilliant!). But when put all this together the play didn't capture my imagination. Maybe the story was lost in translation or I was just too tired since I arrived in Sarajevo that day after a long journey.

P.I. (PAYS), FRANCE / BENIN; Compagnie Julie Dossavi, Director: Julie Dossavi

This was the second highest rated show on the festival, judged by the audience, and Julie Dossavi won the festival's Golden Laurel Wreath Award for the best actress. Did I like it? Well, it is a dance show with some interesting live African percussion, voice and electronic music. The Julie Dossavi's dance was interesting but not more than that. Simply, there was no story. It was very abstract, something I personally can't connect to.

L. Hübner: Creeps, BiH; Director: Dino Mustafić

The show follows 3 teenagers on their audition for a youth TV presenter. They're from different backgrounds and needless to say, there is a conflict. A very well executed multi media play. Some good acting and live performance of an excellent song about the teenage rebellion in a country ravaged by corruption and nationalism.

J. Glowacki: Hunting Cockroaches, SERBIA; Jugoslovensko Dramsko Pozoriste, Director: Veljko Mićunović

The play is about the life of a couple of Polish artists - emigrants (or refugees) in New York. The play covers most clichés about the "hard" life of east Europeans in the west. Basically it show how rotten and 'cockroach infested' the west is. It's written to have some surreal flashbacks and/or dreams, which I usually like, but all in all the subject didn't touch me even though I'm an (south)east European émigré to the west. I would've thought, it probably appeals to some parts of the home (east European) audience. Story aside, good acting and reasonably directed.

S. Cane: Phaedra's Love, SERBIA / BiH; Jugoslovensko Dramsko Pozoriste / MESS, Director: Iva Milošević

Another well directed and acted play on this years festival. The story is well adopted from a Greek tragedy.

Sing and Be Merry, BELGIUM; The Royal Flemish Theatre KVS, Director: Ruud Gielens

A musical satire about the Flemish nationalism. Well executed and funny in places but it was little bit too long.

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