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All images by Noval Goya

Oxygen

Anker’t Nightclub

Presented by SzínMűHely Productions

Hungarian translation by: Orsolya Kis

Adaptation: Kristóf „Színész Bob” Horváth

Directed by: Bálint Szilágyi

Performed by: Sándor Márkus, Angéla Eke

What I Saw

 

Walk into a grungy dance club permeated by mulled wine and hot dogs. Come for the interesting social atmosphere, young partygoers, and libations. Stay for a piece of punky puppet theatre by a pair of quirky performers. This was the environment set for Oxygen by Ivan Vyripaev, in a performance that showed the festival’s broad appeal to a younger generation.

 

The performers were a pair of puppeteers that were just out of the academy, and the ideas thrown into the show were reflective of an eclectic style and over-the-top attitude. It felt more like a concert than theatre, with standing room, free verse, and music cascading together with the puppetry. Combining a violent story, biblical quotes, and defined scenes, the mashup is trippy – in a good way.

 

It’s clear that the performance was also a statement on post-USSR Eastern Europe. How do today’s young adults, raised in the chaos and upheaval after the fall of the Berlin Wall, begin to cope? In a way, the absurdism within the performance reflected this reality, but without an overly pedantic tone.

This reflected my own experience talking to many twentysomethings while in Budapest - the feeling that they had been hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession was a recurring theme. Young adults are often bemoaning what feels like a lack of opportunity for their good studies and interests, feeling a deflating promise of a better world in Eastern Europe.

Nuts and Bolts

Company Name: SzínMűHely Productions

Premiere: 2. December, 2016


Running time: 60 minutes

Performed in Hungarian with English subtitles

Music: DJ Sanyi and Adam Salman

Hungarian translation by: Orsolya Kis

Adaptation: Kristóf „Színész Bob” Horváth

Visual design: Sándor Márkus

Styling: Angéla Eke

Production director: Mária Szilágyi

Assistant to the director: Eszter Bálint

Directed by: Bálint Szilágyi

Cast Size: 2

Touring Size: 4

Translation options: Subtitles

Touring history: None

Representation: SzínMűHely Alapítvány
Cím: 1094 Budapest, Bokréta u. 10., 1. em. 1.
tel/fax: +36 1 786 29 33
Skype: szinmuhely
e-mail: szinmuhely@gmail.com

Synopsis: Vyrypaev’s play is a concert theatre piece: combining free verse and music. It questions the meaning of Biblical commandments, the possibility of their realisation in our times, in our societies. A man and a woman perform ten ‘tracks’, each of which raises moral dilemmas, following the plotline of a quite simple story. Sasha falls in love with a girl and, therefore, kills his wife, yet their relationship quickly turns into a self-destructive frenzy. The play uses the language of the young people. Starting from the Biblical quotations, an almost slam-like musical torrent of worlds is set loose, which is both very much entertaining and thought-provoking. The play is not performed in a theatrical space but at a popular Budapest pub. The soundtrack will be provided by DJ Sanyi and Adam Salman, a well-known DJ duo of the Hungarian underground scene. The text was adapted for the Hungarian stage by Kristóf ‘Actor Bob’ Horváth, a versatile slammer, who followed the rehearsals as instructor.

 

The play is permeated with the nihilism and disillusionment of the post-regime change Russia. This public mood (even if twenty years have gone by since), seems to emerge with increasing intensity in present-day Hungary. Higher education becomes more and more of a dilemma, or the question of ‘should I stay or should I go’ among many young people. The alternative to these problems is often alcoholism or violence. The play shows these personal problems in a social reflection, while it successfully avoids all forms of moralizing.

Artistic Profiles

Bálint Szilágyi is on the way of becoming a significant figure in young generation of Hungarian theatre directors. As a last year puppetry directing student he approaches texts with an analytical precision, ‘a lover of premieres’, boldly tackling the plays yet undiscovered on the Hungarian stage. He finds it important for theatre to deal with the problems important also for his generation, to stage topical issues, in a style which is both extravagant and breaks with all existing conventions. This is the main reason why he chose as partners for this venture the two founding members of Nylon Group, Sándor Márkus and Angéla Eke (holder of the Junior Prima Award). The trio tries to exploit the unique, ingenious and sexy potential of puppetry as a genre for grownups. Ivan Vyrypaev is one of the leading members of the generation of young Russian playwrights, author of the play Oxygen, which has become an emblematic work of the new millennium in Russia. ‘A sacred fool of theatre’, who claims no less of himself than to have single-handedly founded a new theatre trend he calls confession, which tries to evoke the metaphysical dimensions of the Russian drama.