KOSOVO THEATRE REVIEWS
Review by Daniela Gjopalaj
Black Hole: The asshole of the universe
A black hole is where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. I’ve heard that these holes exist on earth also, in the cities of Kosovo. There, holes are dug, and from them sprout tall buildings, the fruits of which are enjoyed by the "few". In a corrupt state it is well-known who "the few" are.
Better to fall in the asshole of the universe, than to live in a corrupt city like this. This seemed to me the message of the warm, humorous yet dramatic play, Madeleine’s Incident. In these days, when there are so many failed attempts at "alternative" plays, more "classical" plays like this are heart- warming for theater lovers.
The play is written by Kosovar playwright, Jeton Neziraj and produced by Pocket Theater from Cyprus. The director is Marios Theocharous.
Citizens are often left behind and communities like the Roma are even more left behind. Madeleine, the title character of the play, is Roma. The staging was filled with vivid colors that are characteristic of the Roma. Madeleine's mother, performed by Miranda Nychidou, is dressed in red and speaks the Greek language with a Roma accent. We see her also performing the role of the cleaner, of the nurse, of the official from a Kosovar institution, and the official from the German embassy. The father, performed by Andreas Nicolaides, wears a gold thread vest. He is a dreamer with a large heart, much of which is occupied by Madeleine. Nicolaides also plays the energetic showman, and the worker who digs the hole.
Madeleine is represented by a puppet in a pink dress, performed by the actress Athena Savva dressed in black, a good choice to maintain neutrality. We see her also performing the role of the male doctor smoking cigarettes in the hospital room, another official from a Kosovar institution, and the official from the German embassy, the businessmen and the municipality representative.
One of the most impressive characteristics of the Pocket Theater production was the performers' ability to play a variety of roles, even contradicting ones, while being completely transformed and conveying the nuances of each character to the audience. This kind of elasticity, along with a quickness in changing costumes, made a play with 13 characters, but just three actors, come from her family home to ours.
Little Madeleine had a cheerful, lively voice, like children who see everything as a game. She burst like a popcorn kernel as she happily walked the streets of this post-war city, where it seems the enemy is now internal.
Madeleine was born in Germany, where her family emigrated due to war in Kosovo, but after the war they were forced to come back. The only contact Madeleine has with Germany is a friend of hers, Katja, who has not heard from Madeleine for a long time, because she fell into a hole that was dug to create a new building, and she now is standing right in the middle of the black hole.
While Madeleine is in a coma in the hospital, on stage we see corrupt doctors, corrupt businessmen, the media that tries to reflect the reality in their own way. The case of Madeleine went to the bureaucratic offices of Kosovo, with officials who aggressively ignored Madeleine's parents’ request for help. The roles of the officials are performed by Athena Savva and Miranda Nychidou. In the next scene, the same actresses are transformed into German embassy officials.
They refuse Madeleine's parents' requests for assistance in obtaining a German visa so that she might be treated in Germany, but this time they respond nicely, in a European manner, where even the worst news is delivered with a smile.
And while these are happening, in a world where not only humans but all of humanity has taken a back seat, it seems Madeleine made her decision.
In her dream, Madeleine asks her father for a fast train, so fast that it would seem that it is flying. This is the most beautiful scene of the play.
As in a dream, a scenario of magical realism is created between the real and the fantastic. Madeleine eventually spots the train in the horizon and joyfully embarks on her journey to another world. Somewhere beyond black holes and assholes. Where politics, money and corruption do not have the power to turn man into a beast digging graves in the middle of the city. In that world, little Madeleine can find happiness, love, and big hearts, like that of her father.
In the end, Madeleine’s parents leave the city. Because the Roma are Roma only when they travel.
Produced by Pocket Theater from Limassol, Cyprus
Author: Jeton Neziraj // Directed by: Marios Theocharous // Cast: Andreas Nicolaides, Miranda Nychidou, Athena Savva // Sets and Costumes: Thelma Cassoulidou // Choreography: Marina Poyiadji // Music: Demetris Spyrou International Outreach: Marios Theocharous // Translation into Greek: Marios Theocharous// Lights: Vasilis Petinaris // Translated into English by: Alexandra Channer