March 29 March 2019 Small City Theater Behind the Channel was the premiere of the new performance by director Yavor Gerdev - "The Holiday." A title that is disturbing and provokes many associations - both positive and negative. It is the duality of this word that sets the theme of the spectacle and reveals the existence of lush underwater waters, at first glance, a normal family that will unravel during the holiday.


The family gathers to celebrate the father's 50 anniversary, just months after the sudden suicide of one of his daughters. The tragedy is not talked about, as if everyone is trying to forget the horror, to suppress it, acting as usual, as if nothing had happened. But the unexplained circumstances surrounding this suicide and the turmoil that remains in the soul of each of them keep them anxious. The tension gradually builds up until it finally reaches the limit and bursts like a bomb. The holiday is precisely that overflowing cup, at which one of the twin sons of suicide fails and for the first time dares to tell the truth - the father is the cause of her suicide. And this is not his only sin against the family.

photo: Stefan N. Shterev

In the course of the evening, when everyone is gathered around the table and trying to pretend to be a normal family, the weaknesses of each are revealed in the small things. The conversations, habits and intolerances of each other quickly crystallize. The family tries to preserve and not break up, relying on old traditions, familiar songs from childhood and youth, but they are not enough. Everything is long gone, relationships lost, respect and understanding between them, too.


The table is a symbol of family closeness, of sharing the emotions experienced. It is also the place where the chills are most often exacerbated and the table becomes a battle ring. And by chance, everything happens exactly on the birthday of the father, who will be blamed for all mortal sins - well deserved. The twin's hidden hatred of his other siblings from a child, his father's incest to his own children, and most of all the little Christian (the twin). At an early age, he was abused by his father, his mother's knowledge of all this, and her inexplicable silence on the horrific crime. It all comes as a long-lived confession that will either completely destroy this family or unite it, subjecting it to catharsis.

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photo: Stefan N. Shterev

The anniversary is reminiscent of The Last Supper - the last for the family before the father is "crucified" by his son's confession. He appears as one of the Apostles who will betray the father, revealing the truth of his criminal acts. Completely compositional, one can also look for similarities with Leonardo's picture - the position of each family member with the others and their actions during the dinner. In the same way, everyone faces the audience so they can be seen well. The next day, at breakfast, after all was said and nothing was left silent, they sat with their backs to us. They send their father away so that they can eat comfortably, that is, to continue their lives, despite what has happened in the past.


The play is an excellent illustration of what is happening in 21st century global society. She raises questions about the unspoken, which remains in the background and silent. It is absurd today, in the presence of so many institutions to combat domestic violence, child abuse, etc., to remain silent and remain so deep in family and personal problems. It is absurd, as absurd as this broken family, to continue pretending that everything is in order. Nothing in it is in order and has not been for a moment in all these years. The children grew mentally disabled because of their even more mentally damaged father. The mother's silence and her complicity in the fornication are criminal. And the worst part is that this happens in many families and they are between us. Everyone in the audience can recognize themselves, their relatives or acquaintances in the members of this family, in their habits and traditions.

photo: Stefan N. Shterev

In this sense, the play raises many significant and deep psychological questions and appeals to the public: to talk about problems, to think of new, better strategies for dealing with domestic and sexual violence! Because they are not an illusion, they are not a fabrication, but part of our daily lives. We just don't notice them or we don't want to notice them.


The show offers a new version of Thomas Winterberg's 1998 movie, which strips for a cleanliness of cinematic effects, sound, décor and filters, and allows the cast to come to the fore. These are the typical gestures for the Dogma 95 movement, created by Winterberg, Lars von Trier, Christian Levering and Soren Crash-Jacobsen. The stage version is due to playwright David Eldridge, who rewrites the screenplay and adapts it for the stage. For the first time in the 2004, the theater was played at the Almeida Theater in London.

photo: Stefan N. Shterev

Yavor Gordev tried to follow the same style of purity. The decor is minimal, there is almost no music, as well as light effects, and all the weight of the production falls on the cast. Even the costumes are clean. In the beginning, everyone is dressed all in white, and at the formal dinner - in black, which creates a sense of style, the absence of any coquettishness and the appearance of lavish costumes. The casting of cast members is an extremely pleasant experience. Each of them is right in its place and effortlessly makes the viewers believe in it, completely immersed in the images and the action.


An interesting director's decision is three scenes - three separate storylines to play simultaneously in the same space, separated only mentally from one another. This makes it difficult for the viewer to keep track of the individual conversations, but it exacerbates the chaos and absurdity that underlies the spectacle. The action in the bedroom, which is in the background behind the table, happens as if in the subconscious of the viewers, and they seem to have their own nightmares.


Very strong performance and acting! So that can be deduced from the premiere in Small City Theater Behind the Channel. The rest must be seen and experienced first person.

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