All images by Robert Tappert
By Miro Dacho and Ján Luterán (300 words)
Directed by Ján Luterán
(ASTORKA Korzo ’90 Theatre, Bratislava)
Premiere: 12 April 2018
Date I Saw This Show: 7 May 2019
What I Saw
The ASTORKA Korzo ’90 Theatre has been making theatre in Bratislava since 1990 with a focus on the innovative direction of plays from the classics to new works. The company is located in an ornate proscenium theatre located underneath the Ministry of Culture in central Bratislava.
The production begins with a reading, in front of the curtain, of a letter from Vaclav Havel by the narrator of the production—a matter-of-fact presence who might have been the stage manager or company manager. As the curtains parts on the 1980s period production, the colorful residents of Kocúrkova (a traditional, fictional stand-in for Slovakia) are going about their work: making wood trinkets, cleaning glassware, typing, and more. The ensemble is boldly costumed by Eva Kleinová in 1980s wear as well as the traditional Slovak garb which is necessary for working as a secretary in a traditional, fictional town. The character’s activities rhythmically merge to the opening soundscape of the show, giving a sense of a day in the life.
The premise here is a comedic, musical, and eventually cynical look at the pre-Velvet Revolution practice of climbing the social ladder through bribes and blackmail—and the guy in Our Guy is just the man for the job. This cabaret-infused show shows how the rhythms of daily life become party-like, frantic, frenetic even, as the guy works the system and buys the loyalty of the town from the comfort of his desk, which is located in the richly textured office that’s revealed in the back wall of the minimalist scenic design by Juraj Kuchárek.
Eventually the corruption is exposed and the townspeople are lined up and forced to return their gifts to the government. Our guy disappears and in a penultimate scene is revealed to be housed behind plexiglass as a display in a Museum of Corruption. The production looks in on a tour of the Museum where it’s revealed through how compensation is handled at the museum that contemporary life might not be as far removed from the old system as we might like to think.
The final moments of the production are given over to The Office-esque interviews. These hilarious, candid interviews, directed and edited by Emília Ondriašová, drive home the idea that contemporary life might need to be questioned just as much as the past, especially in light of the recent government corruption in President brought to light by the murder of young journalist Ján Kuciak. As the videos end, a graffiti artist appears on the inside of the plexiglass and spray paints “our guy?” across the stage, perhaps a point at President Kiska that’s a bit less pointed since Zuzana Caputova’s election in April 2019.