Playing on the third day of the festival, was a performance King Lear directed by Diego de Brea. The performance was co-produced by the National Theater in Sarajevo and MESS Scene. I will allow myself a more personal approach to this theatrical critique. Primarily because there is not a lot of material for analysis and interpretation, and I usually avoid evaluations. Namely, the performance King Lear is boring. And it is boring because there is nothing to help it become less boring. There is not some exciting directorial reading, no inner dynamics, no ravishing play from the ensemble or some type of inner world of the characters, and no theatrical imagination. Ultimately, there is not even significant directorial skill to define the performance, at least in a compositional sense. The play is chronically lacking of a sense of rhythm.
But, there are microphones. The problem with microphones in the play King Lear is there because they are static, and in place of some kind of directorial solution. And since this creates a certain arbitrariness in the use of the technique, conceptual justification is missing. Namely, any logic is lost very quickly to the use of microphones, and what is left is an unfinished radio drama, on stage. The actors are left, due to lack of concept, speak in general in efforts to create any kind of inner world. The adaptation does not help in the understanding of the play. The result is very draconic and it attempts to focus on Lear’s madness, but so many times it deters into various directions, that a coherent narrative line is almost completely lost. Appearing before the ending of the play, out of nowhere, is a metatextual part which bring in Beethoven. I hadn’t recognized the citation, so to compare it to any similar dramaturgical treatment.
The other problem of the play is more contextual. It is hard to resist the impression that the world of the play is completely immune to the present social moment. It is very hard to listen and watch such explicit sexism, happening on stage. And truly, wouldn’t it be easiest for Lear to reach out for sexism, not to say misogyny? And just now, isn’t the moment right to at least offer a more exiting reading? The play insists on Lear’s possessive madness being perceived as touching paternal behavior. Women are in fact wolves with beautiful hearts, venomous. The last scene leaves us with certain questions. The two women with tight spandex suits and high-heel shoes are burying their father while still alive. I wouldn’t like to go too much into interpreting this costume by Blagoje Mičevski. I wouldn’t like to appear as conservative. But, why are women the ones who need to physically dress down, whenever there is a hint of emotional stripping? Why shouldn’t men be treated the same way? (I’m asking this, indeed, for a friend) Or why don’t we have logical questions instead of dramaturgical excuses? Let’s say, have Regan and Goneril any human qualities, are they suffering, how does separation affect them, and how does their father’s mistreatment affect them?
I don’t like writing negative reviews. Especially when I see untapped potential. Let’s say that Izudin Bajrović is a great Lear. And it would certainly be a joy to watch him being given a second chance to play on stage along with different partners. This way, he is a great Lear, who is trapped inside a radio drama. A thoroughbred dramatic actor closed up inside a radio studio. However, his Lear is concentrated and interesting, one with authentic madness and endless misfortune.
It’s important to note the other actors in the ensemble: Sanela Pepeljak, Mediha Musliović, Slaven Vidak, Vedran Đekić, and Elma Juković. The ensemble has pulled all efforts in order to maintain concentration, to produce an atmosphere and an inner world, although little space is provided for play and imagination.
Because of them, the performance didn’t manage to bury me alive too.