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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

The Gilded Red Cage

Theatre ASTORKA Korzo '90 and BaPoDi

Genre: Drama

Venue: Zoo Pleasance 


Low Down

It takes a while to get into this, the style is eccentric and the content initially appears to be trivial, but in the end is essentially beautiful.


This is not an easy watch, in the sense that it is not interested in entertaining you in any way. It is a very adult piece and you have to be patient with it. A man plays accordian, but then turns his back on us, sits on a chair with some notes. A girl comes on busily with some champagne and flutes, if you think any kind of duologue is going to take place, it doesn’t. Instead the girl, Hana, starts to tell us about herself as if she’s taking to a friend, in a non-linear, thinking-out-loud sort of way, she takes us through the events as well as banalities of her journey. At the the crux of her ramblings lies her ‘love’ Martin, who is always away and doesn’t care for her and she doesn’t understand why. Throughout, the man remains on the chair and occasionally prompts the actress playing Hana, until after about an hour, she goes off, he turns around and tells us his story completely deadpan, this time from the page.

Sound weird? It is rather, it’s almost a piece of performance art. Staged in a sort of juxtapositon, it has warm, funny moments one minute, and periods of trivial detail the next. You may find yourself wishing they’d get on with it, or tell us something meaningfu, but stay with it.

Silvester Lavrik, who also plays Martin has written a script which feels like it has come from a very personal place. When he talks he tells us about the fall of Communism in Slovakia, and the part he played in it. The writing is full of ironic humour and paradoxes that are specific to its subject material, and this is what ties together the narrative threads.

We warm to Hana pretty fast. She reveals herself to us in a way you will rarely see on a British stage. Katrina Mohracova is a strong, very natural actress, and at the end she employs emotion with genuine pathos. Lavrik is billed as an actor but he definitely doesn’t act, it is almost anti-acting in fact, such is the monotony of his tone.

And thus is the quiet power of the piece. As a constant presence on the stage, Martin remains eternally distant from Hana. When he explains himself it is stylistically in opposition and therefore a symbol the tragic paradox of their relationship.

So, this is not an easy piece; it is tragic, poetic, and probably just a bit too obscure for most people.