By Heidi Trautmann
The war will break out after the interval
When I entered the theatre house one Friday evening in early January for the new play in the 2012 season I was surprised to see an absolutely empty stage with the floor worn, no props, and that made me curious. Nothing predetermined, no illusion nor atmosphere created.
A play in a play, a stage which is entered by Bendl, the actor, the main character, and with him theatre routine awakens, the props are brought in. We begin to listen to the life story of Vladimir Bendl, a Czech actor in the 1930s, and are led to understand the political circumstances that finally bring about the downfall of a highly loved and respected actor.
The play was written by Oldřich Daněk (January 16, 1927 - September 3, 2000), a Czech playwright, writer and director, among others. From 1973 onwards he devoted his life full-time to writing.
His dramas are predominantly moralistic. The war will break out after the interval was written in 1976, describing morality under political pressure, here during the Hitler regime and the following communism, and people becoming turncoats for personal benefits. An attitude which has not died out, as we can all see worldwide.
It is Nehir Demirel’s first play as director at the Nicosia Municipality Theatre. She is the daughter of Filiz Naldöven, a Turkish Cypriot poet and writer. Theatre has been Nehir’s passion since childhood, she says. When she returned from Bilkent University, everybody expected of her to bring in new ideas of interpretation and realization, and she has, I think, although I don’t know the play which has been translated from Czech into Turkish by Yücel Erten. Although she might lack experience, as was commented in one critical review, the play was very fresh and movements and choreography were excellent which made the run of the play transparent and easily understandable. Good effects. We should congratulate her on her first coming out!
Osman Ateş made a very good Bendl, as the arrogant and self assured actor and womanizer, as the utterly scared man betraying his friend and his lover, the selfish theatre man who wants nothing but the theatre promised to him, the man behind bars punished for his deeds so you really felt sorry for this creature, and finally as the broken old man, trembling and remembering, till his death bed.
I loved the way he courted the ladies from the audience, Ema, Ela and Eva played by Özgür Oktay, Döndü Özata and Melek Gözükeles, their acting elegantly done in the style of the 1930s.
There was a coming and going, a changing of life stages within the scenes, the actors playing different roles and letting us know by taking a new costume from the rack before they went offstage. Hatice Tezcan was absolutely hilarious, changing from head nurse to lover and party girl. The audience loved her.
The other characters circling around Bendl were very well played as we are used to see them acting; they appeared and went like drawn by an invisible thread, like memory bubbles coming to surface: Bariş Refikoğlu; Erol Refikoğlu, Kiymet Karabiber and finally Cem Aykut whom I have seen for the first time, a true comedian, good body language. Music from Mac the Knife underlined the dramatic development of the play, with the viola wonderfully played by Ersen Sururi, Kontrabas by Cahit Kutrafalı and Guitar by Kadir Evre.
I am not a critic, I am a theatre lover, and I love them all, the actors and theatre people, but I would like to dare a comment that I found some of the scenes a little overdrawn to the limits of caricature, but perhaps it was meant this way.
When I drove home, it gave me a lot to think. The real main character of this play is morality.