Irina Wolf: A lively tribute to the Dada Esprit

DADA CABARET by Matei Vişniec
Director and set designer: Zoltán Balázs

Scenography Ágnes Czirják. Costumes Mari Benedek. Dramaturgy Daniela Magiaru. Choreography András Szőllösi. Musical director Gábor Gábriel Farkas. Chorus director Péter Csák. Orchestra Péter Csák, Attila Földesi, Péter Bubu Farkas, Mihály Bazsinka, Zsolt Bér. With Gábor Gábriel Farkas, Zsigmond Bödők, Ágota Szilágyi, Erika Tankó, Erzsébet Kútvölgyi, Kata Huszárik.

Matei Vişniec's play Dada Cabaret is a poetic and, at the same time, critical tribute paid to the avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century. Tristan Tzara, a founding member of Dadaism, is subjected to extensive interrogation about the origin of the word Dada with the enquirer being... Mr. Dada himself. In a sequence of absurd and hilarious scenes, Vişniec captures very well the chaotic aspect of the movement itself as well as of the historical time period in which it was conceived, as the aesthetic revolution which emerged at Zürich's Cabaret Voltaire overlapped with the First World War and the Bolshevik Uprising (the latter giving birth to the deadliest ideology in history – Communism).

The author leaves complete freedom to the director to rearrange the scenes according to his own “Dadaist” views. Thus, the show co-produced by Budapest
Maladype Theatre founder Zoltán Balász and Farkas Gábor Gábriel orchestra – performing live on stage – is a fascinating medley of music, dance and theatre. The six-member ensemble cast delivers an exceptional performance. Following Balász's singular training technique structured on self-examination, the actors sing, dance and act in Hungarian, English, French, German, Romanian, Russian and Japanese. Improvisation scenes and interaction with the public are merged in the director's visionary and imaginative staging. Extremely simple, but wonderfully effective costumes, as well as the song selection by Farkas Gábor Gábriel (who also plays Mr. Dada) offer a vivid reflection of the times of the early 20th century. Still, the performance involves more than entertainment, as the figure of Lenin, who has frequented Cabaret Voltaire a few times without understanding it at all, gives an in-depth look at the acrimonious history. The actor's collective energy explodes on the stage, mirroring a chaotic world. Scenes performed with rigorous precision, yet playfully, mark in a very convincing way the 100-year anniversary of Dadaism celebrated in 2016.

Irina Wolf - 2017.