Dievouchka

Dievouchka (2003), just like Peasant Opera,is a musical theatre piece. This time, however, director and composer - again Benedek Darvas - mixed the music of late Romantic operas with the Hungarian film songs of the forties. Knowing Pintér’s earlier works this was a stunningly bold undertaking. It was for the first time the company evaded their familiar milieu in dance, song and text, just as if they threw their mother tongue away. Keeping the dramaturgy based on the montage-technique used before they made a formalist, stylised and strongly visual theatre. The imagery of Dievouchka resembles the black-and-white films before the Second World War mostly.

Dievouchka - international tours

Espoon KaupunginTeatteri, Helsinki - 2010
Best set design, Best costume design, Best music, and a Special award for a new breakthrough in the theatre presentation – International Small Scene Festival, Rijeka – 2009
Desiré Central Station – International Theatre Festival, Subotica - 2009
Reward nomination – Spielzeiteuropa - Werkpreis, Berliner Festspiele - 2004

When the curtain goes up, we see stretched-out, black figures with frozen faces stand in a longish, horizontal (wide-screen) snow-white set divided by steps. They are Hungarian soldiers waiting for the new order of their colonel as morning breaks in the barracks. It is the year 1942, when the Hungarian army, tired of constantly redrawing the borderlines of the country, join the Germans in their attack of Russia. They want to prove on the Eastern front that they deserve to keep, defend and repossess their own territories. This Russian mission is a painful memory in the history of Hungary, for in the freezing cold several hundred thousand Hungarian soldiers died in the Don-bend. Dievouchka touches upon the most problematic questions of Hungary’s participation in WW 2. The awakening of an understandable nationalism after the losing of territories were issues many Hungarians started revisiting in 2002.

But it took Pintér to formulate the dangers of reactionary extremism in such a crystal-clear sense of foreboding that in 2011’s Hungary you can’t help but shiver seeing Dievouchka’s ruthless world. Pintér’s humour is unsparing and this time our laughter brings different tears. Trianon, a ragged forced-labour worker of a Jew shot to death, the morphine-addict Nazi officer or minus forty degrees are difficult to laugh at. Yet the actors’ stiffly choreographed performance and the cruelty of the moment clash with the overflowing emotion of a Puccini-like music. Should we for a moment let the sugary humming of the songs lull us asleep, a ruthless chord or musical passage will be our wake-up call in the next. Nearing the end, the story operates with more and more demonic and darker effects. A reserved and cold beauty with but a hint of lightness and an imagery created with an astonishing sense for the fine arts characterise this production – doubtless, Pintér’s most heart-rending and most painful yet.

Krisztina Kovács, Pintér’s former dramaturg