The New York Times Celebrates Jarzyna's Festen
small, The New York Times Celebrates Jarzyna's Festen, Actress Danuta Stenka in Grzegorz Jarzyna's Festen. Photo: Kuba Dąbrowski / TR Warszawa, festen stenka_6363323.jpg
Chief NYT Theatre Critic Ben Brantley calls Jarzyna's staging a "dysfunctional-family drama as big-canvas Grand Guignol, an approach that has its cathartic value"
St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn sets the stage for a ghostly birthday banquet orchestrated by Grzegorz Jarzyna, whose mastery of tension and suspense drives this performance to a fever pitch, rather in contrast to the simple, documentary-like aspects of Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 film, founded on the tenets of the Dogma 95 film movement, or David Eldridge's lukewarm Broadway run of the show in 2006. The first reviews are in and it appears that Jarzyna's grandiose, macabre take on the show could make it a winner on Broadway.
The generous expanse of the venue gives the show an even grander, spookier air set in the hotel owned by Helge and filled up with all the family who have convened to eat and drink in his honour. Brantley remarks on the set, strategically arranged by designer Małgorzata Szczęśniak and lighting designer Jacqueline Sobiszewski, "manages to conjure a mazelike building of many rooms that finally offers no place to hide. Everything seems to be happening both in public and private at the same time".
Jarzyna draws from the most dreaded aspects of the family reunion, where well-honed resentments and pain come back out of the woodwork and haunt what could otherwise be a joyous affair. As Brantley writes,
the production goes as straight for the jugular as the play’s characters do in heated fistfights and wrestling matches. (...) This is dysfunctional-family drama as big-canvas Grand Guignol, an approach that has its cathartic value. Mr. Jarzyna has structured the play as an exorcism that takes its characters - and its audience - through inky, phantom-filled darkness (for the play’s first act, which runs an hour and 40 minutes) before releasing them into daylight (in a brief coda of a second act).
Brantley calls the murky space of the show a shadow land between tragedy and farce, praising TR Warszawa's actors and the play's "robust physicality, equally pregnant with possibilities for pratfalls and homicide, infuses every scene".
See Ben Brantley's full review at theater.nytimes.com
Chris Kopanek, a reviewer for the website www.theatermania.com also offers praise for the show, calling it "stunning" and also remarking on the memorable visual aspect of the set and direction. He writes,
Reality and illusion are separated by a fine line, and Jarzyna lets the audience do the work of distinguishing the two. While this can lead to some truly confounding moments -- or at least a little head-scratching -- it also proves to be quite fun. For at its core, Festen is about an experience felt rather than fully understood.
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart
Source: New York Times, Culture.pl
Festen Video Trailer: