(Prilep, 13-20 June 2003)
On “Balkan Spy” by Dušan Kovačević, directed by Vladimir Taleski, played by the People’s Theatre of Kumanovo
Why are the comedies of Kovačević equally liked both by the “accidental” audience and the one with intellectual demands? His comedies are a reflection of vitality, which comes from the animal side of our nature, but also with overall actions of his heroes. This vitality especially shines from the black humor, the forced smile, and the self-assertiveness trip. In this way Kovačević breaks the analogy of the identification with canonic comedies of Nušić where the latter insists on the troubles one gets into and the conformism as opposed to his authentic comic genre.
Kovačević plays with the authenticity and probability of the situations that come from the ones preceding them. He also pays attention to the plot where he merges the seemingly minor threats, which touch upon themselves again. The puns and tone of speech as a whole are not only the means to induce laughter. The heroes with their actions give birth to the events.
The plays of Kovačević are both a satire of our Balkan mentality and political comedies. Inside them reside maniacally possessed dark guys who are conditioned by their position in the society. The comic procedures develop in the drama, stage and theatrical aspects of Kovačević. He plays in the area: traditional and modern, individual and collective, ideological and moral.
“Balkan Spy” is a superior analysis of the case Man, who becomes the victim of the pursuing delusion. Man who experiences the world as a conspiracy against him, against the ideals he stands for. In his mania he creases a small, but well organized totalitarian order around him. This bitter mockery in this play, and in the other ones created by Kovačević is much deeper and broader than the local frames.
“Balkan Spy” directed by Vladimir Taleski
The sounds of the piano and violin brought sad, strong, yearning feelings. They took us away from the balcony, to an aerial perspective, carrying us to beautiful moments and preparing us at the same time for the world of the hero Ilija Čvorović. His world carries the basic nucleus of the play, which consists of his search/investigation for the “spy and his gang”, against squanderers, spineless men, against the traitors of the country. He follows his suspicious tenant, who presents himself as a tailor, a worker in France. This crazy obsessive fight also involves his wife and his brother. His wife Danica Čvorović is the pillar of patriarchy. By accepting the world of her husband she also appears comical. But, looking at her overall actions, that is, silent obedience of the orders of her husband, she inflicts more of a sad laughter. Opposite to her position, the two twin-brothers Ilija and Gjuro Čvorović are not much different than clowns. Their troubles, the situations they find themselves into, have more and more “adventures”. They are neither good nor bad, because they are originally immoral, because they are masked and led by gloomy thoughts. Thus, before sinking into the final madness, Ilija becomes aware at least for a moment of his reasons and motives that make him act in that way. In the name of the self-confirmation, in the name of the fact that he spent two years in prison to get some ideology, in the name of these, the spies who want to break his life resistance. The context of the main story also matches the world of the daughter, that is, the way she gets her job, her “forced” change in her actions, her flirting with the tenant. In the staging of Taleski this line cuts more into the reality, making the while situation really possible, that is, at moments we believe more in the realistic actions of the hero. This was obviously most persistently shown in the acting of Ilija (Goran). Consistently following the complete play technique of Kovačević, Taleski also inserts his own interventions, not denying anything of what is in the core of dramatics. The slides shown during the play, the private detective investigations of Ilija, are in the original text of Kovačević. But, the short punch-line sequences, for example, when Danica stands in front of the slide, and in the background there is a monastery (Matejče), when she is a ready target of her husband, that is, when he is always ready for not letting the enemy, these moments are our local color, the modern events, and movie-like types of sequences (like the ones of Milčo): close-up of our traditional, patriarchal, suffering, women being. Our everyday truth is put almost everywhere where there are toponims, dialect expressions that allude to the small man, his limitations, but giving closeness to the audience. In this way, there is a melodramatic de-patetisation of history, both the one that is very close, the one of yesterday. The appearance of the model was not very clear, a director’s intervention that maybe alluded to the trendy masked and impure forms or something like this: while the rest of the world is occupied and lives in a more sophisticated way, we, the Balkan people deal with illusions, futile and impure, conservative fix ideas. With the appearance of the model, the music is most stressed: typical music for the catwalk with small electronic vibrations. The stage set had the relation with our everyday crises, the traditional grandparents’ homes, and the esthetics of the after/war stage solutions, which enable the mobility of the play. The creativity of the costumes gave the correct answer, that is, a selected model for each actor. They communicated both with the director, stage and text. If the mother was dressed as our well-known folk mother, her daughter spotlessly follows the most recent fashion trend. The current mountain fashion of military-terrorist costumes was also present. The light, having the role of an announcer, always followed the tense, dramatic fore-moments, which always, as a rule with Kovačević induce laughter.