stage director

Mykwa does not purify… , Stefan Drajewski in Głos Wielkopolski

„Mykwa” directed by Monika Dobrowlañska, the Polish Theatre in Poznañ, presented at the 2nd European Theatre Encounters „Close Strangers” in Poznañ. Review by Stefan Drajewski in Polska Głos Wielkopolski.

We will rub salt into Polish – Jewish wounds for a very long time. The Drama by Piotr Rowicki whose premiere was shown in the Polish Theatre during Close Strangers Festival serves as an evidence of the previous sentence. We know so little about one another, one could say. What makes it worse, we cannot draw any conclusions from history.

Rowicki does not tell about events which happened in Jadwabne once more time. The story is interesting for him as it displays the drama of an individual. On the stage the group murder committed by the Polish against the Jewish comes back in reminiscences during Jan Sapieżka’s confession made before his family, a priest, Mendel’s ghost. Being eaten by a terminal disease he attempts to settle accounts. The whole world considers him to be a hero: the Home Army soldier, a prisoner of concentration and internment camp, still not many know he is also a rapist who raped a young Jewish girl and then was active in murdering the Jews. Wojciech Kalwat acting this role is bitter and repugnant, he arouses pity and admiration. Being excited and attentive he removes subsequent masks from his face. Wojciech Kalwat’s Sapieżka is not a crude boor acting on a base impulse.

In any situation his choices were supported by ideology and deep conviction about being right in his decisions. The truth, showing that these decisions were not always the right ones, comes out when his grandson requires his money (Łukasz Chrzuszcz). He saw in his grandson himself – a young provincial boy captivated by nationalistic ideas. For a contemporary spectator it can be horrible to learn that nothing has changed in our Polish mentality for 60 years. Contemporary young nationalists do not differ in any way from young Sapieżka living in the pre-war years.

„Mykwa” is a family drama. Lots of families keep mysterious stories in their wardrobes and cupboards. They come across these stories accidentally, usually when it is too late. In this case Jan Sapieżka managed to reveal his dark mystery. Only his older brother and Mendel knew how much he was involved in burning the Jewish down, his wife lived in the sate of oblivion. Małgorzata Peczyńska, starring the wife, having heard this story became speechless just like Loath’s wife. No wonder. She has been living together with a murderer for 60 years. The younger brother accepts the sad truth, but he does not care about it. The young pries cannot cope with it – it does not match his outlook.

Monika Dobrowlańska’s performance makes an impression, shatters a spectator’s feeling of relax and calm after sitting a comfortable armchair. The director together with Petra Korink (stage and costume designer) presented a world built on a marshy ground. The ground sags under our heroes’ feet all the time, they sink deep into it and paddle further. Their world is unstable and unsure just like the Polish – Jewish relationships. It is difficult for them to find their way. The actors were brilliant creating the characters. Apart from Wojciech Kalwat, Małgorzata Peczyńska acted Jan’s wife in a wonderful manner, she minimalised any expression. She experiences her drama in concentration. Jakub Papuga acted two characters: Mendel and the priest. It is ages since I last saw such incredibly stereotypical people acted in such a great non-stereotypical manner.

When the curtain fell down, there was a deep silence. Only after a short while did the applause start. Then I thought: „maybe the applause is unnecessary, maybe we should leave the theatre in silence”. It turned out once again that „Mykwa” does not purify. Some residue remained.
Mykwa does not purify…

Stefan Drajewski
Polska Głos Wielkopolski no 71/25.03.
31-03-2009

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