„It may be war or incurable disease, fatal love or the fall of a world, but there is always some tragic extremity
with which Dimitar Dimov confronts his characters. When time is limited the senses are most acute, the days become
as dense as a lifetime, and the tempo of the internal clock rises to crescendo. This doom compresses the destinies,
it intensifies the meaning of existence and turns every moment into a culmination. There is a similar exultation of
despair in Remark's novels.
The choice of the doomed in "First Lt. Benz" is to commit suicide with love, regardless of whether it is
the body or the soul that perish in the process. And besides, "a single love is far from sufficient to the life
it has left". And what might be more suitable than a tango to pick up from where words have become helpless.
The husky voice of the Argentinean tango and its steps - a stylised love act, were chosen by director Bina Haralampieva,
composer Assen Avramov and choreographer Margarita Gradechlieva to mark the peak of "First Lt. Benz" - the
latest performance at the Little City Theatre "Off the Channel". It is the only moment when the bodies speak
- Benz (Vladimir Penev) and Elena Petrasheva (Irini Jambonas). The rest of the time they are separated by an almost
materialised wall of lies, hypocrisy, social conventions. The only one who refuses to accept that is First Lt. Hirschfogel…
Along with the coat of his character actor Yossif Surchadjiev has also put on his mask of a cynic, which though starts
cracking with love for a cruel beauty and compassion for the next doomed person who has ended in the trap of her fatal
This is the second time when "Off the Channel" takes the risk of juxtaposing two extremely strong actors
- first in "Art" where Vladimir Penev was confronted with Atanass Atanassov, and now Penev again with Yossif
Surchadjiev. And from the looks of it, this attempt too will be yet another success…
Yuri Dachev's stage adaptation is notable in many ways but to me its greatest achievement is that it has turned servant
girl Silvi into one of the main personages. The eyes of Ilka Zafirova in this role take the story much further beyond
the end of the novel. Every time she appears on stage there is a sense of tragedy about, several times exceeding the
effects of an otherwise piquant intrigue. The broken lines she speaks mixing Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian from the
Pirin region spread the aroma of tobacco, of oregano and doom throughout the hall."
issue 41, Oct. '02
|"The characters seem stupefied at first glance, but behind their static
behaviour one might find powerful, passionate experiences… The relationships are revealed with ultimate simplicity and
clarity. But the important part, the essential part, the painful part – that is all muffled by card playing, wine and
dances. All characters are enveloped by a sense of life not developing according to one’s dreams and cravings.
It is by no coincidence that Assen Avramov has decided that the tango would be the rhythm of the performance. The tango
is a passionate dance, full of fatalism. It looks quite controlled to the observer, but the couple is charged with tension
and energy which seems ready to explode any moment… In Haralampieva’s interpretation the love is a tango. The stylised
dance is performed twice on stage – when the bodies and hearts merge into one, and when they separate. To Benz and Elena
the tango is a revelation of love, as well as acceptance that love is dead.
The play is melodramatic by character but by no means brings to tears. On the contrary, it bears the severe intellectual
message that the moral sacrifice each secular society makes is the innocence of love."
10 Oct. '02
Irini Jamonas, Vladimir Penev,
Hristo Moutafchiev, Petar Kalchev,
Stoyo Mirkov, Ilia Raev, Ilka Zafirova, Lidia Vulkova, Maxim Genchev.