Review: THE DISCOMFORT OF EVENING at Wroclaw Mime Theatre

The snowy, lonely universe of trauma.

By: Mar. 10, 2023
Review: THE DISCOMFORT OF EVENING at Wroclaw Mime Theatre
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Gabor Mate, a physician said that children don't get traumatized because they get hurt; they get traumatized because they're alone with the hurt. This play starts strong with the death of a family member. The rest is a rolling snowball of pain, separation, and loneliness.

The basis of pantomime is movement and this performance successfully attempts to show through movement rather than words how difficult it is to experience suffering. The axis is the feelings of the little sister of the deceased (amazing Agnieszka Dziewa and Urszula Kusnierz) struggling with a sense of loss, and constantly being misunderstood by the family. Everyone suffers in their corner, disconnected not only from others but from their pain. They are groping in the darkness of denial and stubborn feeling that life goes on. An absent mother (fantastic Anna Nabialkowska) who wanders in self-hatred, an insensitive father (great Jan Kochanowski) who gets even tougher, a frivolous sister (exceptional Karolina Paczkowska) is a little thoughtless, a little ignorant, a rebellious big brother (formidable Jakub Pewinski) is sometimes scary, sometimes crazy, always unpredictable. They are a family that does not talk about death or their loss and cannot deal with it progressively. They just keep going. The actors are genuinely fantastic, we feel their pain and it doesn't melt like snow. They look like ghosts with their creepy black eyes and they act like one. It's like adding insult to injury.

The scenery is winter, there is snow everywhere and the lights are in my opinion the strongest aspects of the show. Aleksandr Prowalinski maneuvers us virtuously between space and color. Dullness, dimness, the full moon reflecting on the snow, the half-light, coldness of an empty house, it's all there! Epic!

Malgorzata Wdowik, the director, takes us by the hand and leads us into this cold and foreign world without scruples, but with great sensitivity and respect for the characters. Even if they hurt themselves, we don't judge them and we don't blame them. We observe and feel their pain. Costumes (Maja Skrzypik), music (Agata Zemla), sculptures (Jan Banaszak) and constantly moving rabbit (Eloy Moreno Gallego) are making perfect harmonic sense.

If you've ever wondered what a grieving body looks like, you'll find the answer here. Pain is mixed with growing up and the embarrassment that comes with it, another piece of the complex puzzle because adolescence and injury are a difficult combo. As an adult, you have an opportunity to look back and verify the children's statements. Today, with hindsight, we realize that some of them were very exaggerated or unappreciated. The child's fragile self opposes the movements of the farm animals, they are not his allies, but rather an inevitable burden. Attempts at sacrifice also fail.

As actors leave tracks in the snow, we are marked by the events of our lives. This play is a story of loneliness, difficult and oppressive. The topic is not easy, but the force with which the theater tackles it is admirable. This is one of those pieces that will stay with you for a long time.

Photo: Natalia Kabanow


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