With “O.B.E.B.” Under the Control of ‘The Leader’
By Heidi Trautmann
I love the theatre and I have tried to go to all plays at the Nicosia Municipality Theatre for the last five years, and although I do not understand everything, I enjoy watching the construction and realization of the play - if I had the chance to read about the play in English - with respect to directing, acting, stage movements or choreography. In some cases I have to rely on the help from insiders, such as in this case by Aliye Ummanel who was directing the play.
“It is a new play by the young playwright Yiğit Sertdemir, the most talk intensive I have ever directed. The playwright is very talented, he creates very interesting characters and his dialogues are full of critical wit. With O.B.E.B., an abstract figure as The Leader, he criticizes the political system. The System, trying to survive as a political power, undertakes to transform people into predetermined characters by the use of a fake psychiatrist and his assistant assumed to be deaf. The operation is successful, the characters are transformed.”
A very ambitious piece. A two-act play with very intensive dialogues. A psychiatrist’s office in which the fake psychiatrist, convincingly played by Bariş Refikoğlu including a little necessary madness, - what an enormous amount of text he had to memorize - gets his order from an invisible Leader O.B.E.B. which is the abbreviation of “greatest common divisor” which calls for many other associations doesn’t it?
In part I the ‘doctor’ and his assistant, played by Aytunç Şabanlı, replay a ‘video scene’ in which four female patients are examined and categorized. In part II they come out as the changed personalities, operation succeeded but the fact that the characteristics as such are still existent, though in different skins, reduces the whole operation to absurdity, that means that the System will never change. For example a leftist woman who questions the system is transformed into a popular icon, a famous star, to become opium for the society and by becoming so she will prevent the society from questioning the system.
The four patients, ladies of all shades of society, are superbly played by Melek Gözükeles, Hatice Tezcan, Özgür Oktay and Döndü Özata (mentioned in the order of appearance) and it was mere pleasure to watch their mimicry and body language, great acting.
Aliye Ummanel has lived up to her maxim that less is more and that much can be said by a gesture or by just moving a chair at the right time. Also the simplified scenery which was created by Özlem Yetkili, with an illuminated anonymous city scene as background and nothing but four chairs and some cardboard characters representing society from which the ‘patients’ were selected, ah yes and a table on which the doctor keeps record. The stage left empty and free to have nothing but the acting in the foreground.
In the foyer there was a screen where we – part of society - could watch ourselves sitting in the house during the past act, recorded by a camera eye; OBEB watching? Watch out!
Published in Cyprus Observer 27, 2012