Press review: “Gardenia” by Elzbieta Chowaniec staged at Teatrul Odeon

On May 31 Gardenia by the Polish author Elzbieta Chowaniec debuted at Teatrul Odeon (Bucharest) and went on stage during the following month.

Here we publish the translation of a review of the show by the Romanian Acta est fabula online magazine (here you can find the original in Romanian):


Those prodigal mothers and their daughters

Razvana Nita, 6.06. 2018, Acta est fabula

Is it something genetic? Or is about the mentality that, over the course of a century, does not change fundamentally? A certain kind of implacable, a touch of destiny, beyond our power to manage our own life? Or the irresistible desire to be part of the future of our children? To be – so – contemporary to our posterity?

Four destinies marked by Mother’s personality. Four women, four survivors, and four victims in search of escape, becoming a trauma source for the next generation. The repeated burden of the struggle to break out of the failure paradigm. Alcohol, lack of affection, routine, abandonment, selfishness, wandering and a painful and impossible sensation of irretrievable. A world that does not assume martyrdom all the way, and which – perhaps that’s why – cannot be saved.

Elzbieta Chowaniec’s text is concise, sharp, rough, like an indictment or – more accurately – like a probatorium that – paradoxically – is not seeking to establish the truth and the conviction of perpetrators, but draws us into a seductive interrogatory with ourselves. In a hostile, chaotic universe lacking forgiveness, compassion, and in which illusions are lost quickly and tragically, life continues to give life. A tremendous, powerful text, valuable both in spiritual and emotional terms.

What Hungarian director Zoltán Balázs managed together with four actresses of magnetic personality and undeniable creative scale – Antoaneta Zaharia, Paula Niculiţă, Simona Popescu Madalina Ciotea – can be assimilated to an intensive theatre course. Seeing this show it is clear to us, it is impeccably represented what means and implies a director conception (to know WHAT you want with a text, WHERE you’re going and HOW to make your way to the safest and most spectacular way to a percussive message). The director is a master of the profession’s means, he has the ability to find the formula, the concept, the structure on which he builds with a surgical precision, a solid communication bridge with the audience.

The format of the opera arias is excellently covered by the director and the actresses. The whole staging has a special stylistic rigor in construction, size, rarely good taste (congratulations for Constantin Ciubotaru – stage design and Andrada Chiriac – costumes!). Attention to phrasing, rhythm, tone, pauses, gesture – a symphony impeccably orchestrated, conducted and performed, a thrilling assumption of the score, the actresses managing a magnetic transfiguration (unforgettable brightness of their eyes – captive innocence in the prison of a body under the terror of the biological clock).

At the end of the season, we received this huge gift. Gardenia is a fascinating, thrilling and revealing expedition in the history of a family seen from the perspective of the prodigal mothers and their daughters waiting patiently for them. A miraculous show that speaks with restrained rage about love, maternity, and how terribly lonely we find (even) on the (already) beaten roads of our lives. “

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