György Csepeli: Everyman

Roy Chen, the dramaturg of the Gesher Theater in Tel Aviv, wrote a moving play, which was performed by the nine actors of the Maladype Theatre (in the order written on the play bill: Gáspár Mesés, Edina Bajkó g.a., Brigitta Erőss, Andrea Lukács, Kornél , Zoltán Pál, Erika Vincze, Lilla Zsenák and András Gedeon) directed by Zoltán Balázs. The performance, entitled Someone like me, takes place in a psychiatric institution, where the chief doctor, who controls the patients and their illness, and the psychologist, who involves the patients in the healing process, fight with each other, with the patients and their parents, in order to start the improvement, to end those symptoms, which make it impossible them to integrate into the society outside the institution.

The basic idea of the one-hour performance, with a whirlwind rhythm, could also come from Heidegger, who in his great work on existence and time talks about "everyman". According to the philosopher, everyman's being is based on mediocrity. As he puts, "this mediocrity outlines what we can undertake and what we are allowed to undertake, taking care of every single exception that arises. All outstanding people are destined to be quietly suppressed. All originals are honed from one day to the next. Everything fought will be easily pawned. All secrets lose their power."

The excitement and beauty of the social psychiatric play presented in the theatre of Eötvös10 comes from the fact that we see and hear the struggle that takes place not only between the patients and the psychiatrist, but also in each patient whose suffering the psychologist helps ease. The psychologist's tool is the drama game, which, using the well-known dramaturgical approach of "theatre in the theater", gives Zoltán Balázs the opportunity to add his usual spectacular and powerful revue elements to the series of effectively worded but also professionally authentic dialogues.

As we watch the performance, we realize that Roy Chen's characters may not be sick. The problem with the residents of the institute is that they don't want to be average. Their desire is to be original, exceptional, outstanding, which is not what their parents want, who, not knowing how to become someone, became anyone. Non-sick patients suffer from a variety of mental disorders. Among them there are a compulsive, a depressed, an anxious, a gender identity-shaken girl who feels like a boy and a boy sometimes with raging Asperger's syndrome. As we watch and listen to them, we understand and love each of them. In their self-revealing confessions in a few words, their cruel, traumatic past is revealed, from which their present follows. In short, brilliantly striking scenes, the play evokes the father and mother who are unable to love but lie about their love, the guardians of mediocrity, whose hypocritical words embody the social oppression against which their sons and daughters, who are declared sick, rebel. Already in the first third of the last century, the Marxist developers of Freud's psychology drew attention to the fact that the compulsion of mediocrity is the work of the sacred covenant between the family and the state, which does not tolerate and labels as a mental illness the rebellion and critical thinking of children growing up in the family. It is ironic to see that the theory originally invented for authoritarian German families is also true in Israeli society, which shows that any state, be it Jewish or Christian, is able to embed itself in any family and poison the adult lives of the children growing up there. I find it interesting that in Károly Pap's novel written in Hungary more than ninety years ago, little Gyuri Azarel rebelled against his authoritarian rabbi father in exactly the same way as the young people in Roy Chen's play.

The writer's intellectually well-crafted, sometimes poetic text, the director's calm, but unsettling direction, the absolutely authentic identification of the actors with their roles involve and do not let go of the spectator, who becomes aware during the performance that he too could be there on the stage, with a similar spiritual he is hurt by disturbances, and what he sees is the mirror, in which - as Hamlet says in his play - he sees the "own virtue and feature" of his age.

School dramas used to be played in the monastic schools for the edification of the young students, the task of which was to prepare the young people just entering life to navigate the labyrinths of virtue and vice that await them. The age of school dramas and with it the certainty of belief in good and evil has passed. Today's young people live in an age of uncertainty, which offers them the false certainty of becoming everyman, which flattens all possibilities of existence. Roy Chen's postmodern school drama calls on today's youth to face uncertainty and take risks to become someone.

György Csepeli, Criticai Lapok, 2023

Translation by Zsuzsanna Juraszek