The most startling is that the director and set designer of this poetic performance, that tells the story of a country woman’s awakening, is a film person. Péter Gothár has shot nine movies so far (Passport, the newest, is about a Hungarian farmer who goes to Ukraine to find a bride) and more than ten documentaries. In spite of all this he knows what theatre is about more than some theatrical directors. When the female protagonist is asleep, blue light dims through that opens the hut into the space of night. The oversized clog the woman is wearing tells everything about miserable poverty. In a time, when theatrical directors and set designers tend to strive for film-like naturalism, a Hungarian film person uses metaphors and theatrical sign systems with great mastery.
Roman Pawlowski, Gazeta Wyborcza, May 31, 2002.
Out of the three prizes two went to two plays that were written in the mid ’90s, David Harrower’s Knives In Hens and Dejan Dukowski’s Powder Keg. These are the signs of changes that we have been noticing in the last few years of European theatre. The audience wants new stories; there is a shift from the ornate sets of mega-productions to the chamber-like performances that rely on the actors’ performance and on a new kind of dramaturgy. The Grand Prix winning Hungarian production of David Harrower’s Knives In Hens was just this kind; a three-person play with raw, naked sets. The stunning effect comes from the intensity of acting and the intimacy, not from the directorial ideas. The Eastern European theatre has a hard time integrating contemporary dramaturgy that requires different direction than classic plays as the audience does not know the text thus cannot compare the director’s version to the original (…)
Roman Pawlowski, Gazeta Wyborcza, 2002. június 3.
Knives In Hens was produced in a nice, poetic way by theatrical and film director Péter Gothár.
Maybe the outstanding pictures, the perfect lighting, the cutback on the actors’ theatricality are due to his experience in film. But where do the special empathy for the female psyche and mentality, the revelation of the most private spheres in which moral norms do not exist, come from?
All that is left is the obeisance for a true artist’s intuitions and sensitivity. The performance shown in the festival affected us primarily by poetic pictures, the ingenuity of simplifications and by its theatrical metaphors. (…) Piotr Sommer’s austere, clear sounding translation was led by economical dialogues and is probably a very close translation of the original. It suited the Polish audience and the play as well. This is how everything rounded up in a unity, thanks to which we saw a theatrical performance the beauty of which captivated us all. No wonder that it was the Katona József Színház that received the most of KONTAKT prizes- starting with the Grand Prix and the critics’ award for the best performance, going on to the prize to the best actor, Ferenc Lengyel.