“Belgrade Trilogy" at the 4th Street Theatre Written by Biljana Srbljanovic Directed by Joanna Nastassja Kastratovic Reviewed by David Roberts Theatre Reviews Limited
Being able to see and review “Belgrade Trilogy” was an important event for me. This review will be more personal than any that I have written. Normally, critical reviews are written in the third person and the critic keeps professional distance from the performance being reviewed. It is difficult to keep that distance after visiting Belgrade and driving through war-torn streets of Serbia and Croatia. It is especially difficult after sharing a meal in a Croatian home with a woman who wonders every day if her young husband will return home from his job as a sweeping and demining the landmines left from the 1991 – 1995 war. To listen to her hopes for the future, for the time when Serbian children and Croatian children would again play together and grow together has remained a daunting memory.
In 1995, almost a quarter million Serbians left Belgrade to find such a future outside of their war wracked land. Biljana Srbljanovic’s “Belgrade Trilogy” chronicles eleven fictional characters who try to find new lives in new places. Their journeys are mixed with dashed hopes and sadness: much of what they tried to leave behind follows them or awaits them in their new settings. All three parts of the play’s trilogy (and its epilogue) take place on New Year’s Eve.
Brothers Kica and Mica Yovic hope that Prague will provide a new home, jobs, and new friendships. Instead they end up as male dancers at a club still looking for the kind of employment that can sustain a decent living. Their brotherly boxing is a metaphor for the conflict that they have not been able to leave behind in Belgrade. Benjamin Watson and Sawyer Avery bring energy to this absurdist piece of theatre. And Iva Valkova is the catalyst Alena who tries to woo Mica away from his memories of his love Ana nut only succeeds in driving him deeper into despair and meaningless existence.
Two couples clash in the second part of the trilogy: Sanja and Milos have emigrated to Sydney Australia and have not found relief from battle. They argue and fight and their crying baby is a trope for the frustration and hunger they both hope for but have not found in each other or in Australia. When two friends come over – Kaca and Dule – things do not get much better and the evening ends in some chilling discoveries. Vanina Kondova, Gavin Haag, Jess Loudon, and Teodor Petelov maneuver through this second absurdist piece with skill and style.
The final part of the trilogy features two twenty-something’s searching for a new life in Los Angeles, California. This City of Angels has not brought anything they expected after leaving Belgrade. Yovan works for a moving company and has found no work as an actor. Mara is a pianist whose career is at a standstill. As they try to find comfort in each other, they are interrupted by Daca whose past collides with their present in a horrific way. Luka Mijatovic, Kate Hoffman, and Alexander Ristov blaze through this more realistic segment with ease and focus its horror with passion.
In the end, none of these young people have a life better than the one they left behind in Belgrade. Violence is as prevalent in Prague, Sydney, and Hollywood. Dreams and hopes remain unfulfilled. Relationships old and new have not brought comfort. No one has provided for these hapless few who tried to make things right in a new land. Mica was right when he said to his brother, “We are all responsible for ourselves.” Interestingly, none of the characters in the trilogy have wristwatches that function: their quest for peace is moving nowhere and time itself is not on their side.
Mica left Ana his first love behind in Belgrade. When he discovered she had married and had a child, his hopes for reuniting with her in Prague ended. But even Ana’s marriage has not brought her comfort. In the play’s epilogue, an image of Ana (Samantha Slater) is projected onto the back of the sofa on stage. The audience sees her crawling toward the gun left on the sofa by Daca after he “accidently” kills Yovan. The violence and carnage and destruction wrought by the 1991 – 1995 war continue to haunt the survivors. Perhaps there is no escape from the ravages of war for anyone? See “Belgrade Trilogy” and join the conversation.
Presented by The WhiteListed Theatre Company at the 4th Street Theatre. Directed by Joanna Nastassja Kastratovic. Translated by Kate Hoffman and Theo Petelov.
The cast of Belgrade Trilogy features Iva Valkova, Kate Hoffman, Jess Loudon, Samantha Slater, Vanina Kondova, Benjamin Watson, Sawyer Avery, Alexander Ristov, Luka Mijatovic, Gavin Haag and Theo Petelov.
The creative team includes Alexandra Clayton (Assistant Director), Jivko Dumanov (Designer), Adriana Milanova (Original Music) and Nikoleta Despodova (Photography). Kate Hoffman and Theo Petelov serve as Artistic Directors of The WhiteListed Theatre Company and also translated the original text for this production, and Alexandra Alcocer serves as Director of Development for the company. The WhiteListed Theatre Company is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization.
Belgrade Trilogy will run at the 4th Street Theatre (83 East 4th Street) through September 22nd with performances Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tickets, priced at $25, can be purchased online at www.WhiteListedTheatre.com
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Monday, September 17, 2012