The work of Michał Bałucki, a nineteenth-century Krakow playwright, gave the creators of this play a pretext to discuss our identity, or indeed, how we imagine it. How we would like to see ourselves, think about ourselves, what we’d like to believe in, and what we’d prefer to forget. And above all, it is a play about our dreams of Poland — sometimes touching, sometimes amusing, often moving to tears.
The artists have based their performance on the comedy “Neighbours,” situating it in the pastiche convention of the national fairy tale. Through this gesture, they not only back up the comic potential in Bałucki’s work, they also have a look at the dreams of returning to a marvellous, safe, and idealized past (a retrotopia) that are presently a recurring part of our public debate. A sign of this nostalgic yearning is the enormous popularity of historical reconstruction groups in Poland, but we can find many more traces around us as well.
“The setting is nineteenth-century Galicia, in other words, the here and now…”
Piaskowski and Sulima dredge up (…) a timeless and scathing critique of the national myth-making mania, the excess of ambition to compensate for failure, and the rowdiness, which, though once the cause of the nation’s downfall, remain for many a source of (re)ssentiment, as facets shaping a collectively imagined myth of the “noble democracy.” There really are no weak links in this play. But the earnest dope Radoszewski performed by Michał Majnicz, the folk stereotype of Magda the servant in Krzysztof Stawowy brilliant rendition, and Lidia Duda as Auntie, the main protagonist’s sister – the only rational figure in this pack of fools – are indisputably delightful.
Michał Centkowski, Newsweek Polska