Itzko Fintzi - a Remarkable Mr. Paul
Theatre Off the Channel's latest premiere is a new step in its repertory policy
The Restitution Bill - a product of the so called democratic changes in our
country - generally has a comic effect on the individual. Bulgarian authors
have not yet concentrated their artistic effort on this issue. German dramatist
Tankred Dorst, founder of the Bonn Biennial, (the most prestigious European
forum for dramaturgy), addressed it in "Mr. Paul". His work rightly
became best play for 1995 and was first staged in Bochum by avant-garde director
The Little City Theatre´s achievement is its latest premiere. Moreover,
this is the first staging of "Mr. Paul" in Bulgaria. This new theatrical
adventure of composer Garo Ashikyan, known more for his music, is yet his
most successful one. The young director masterfully directs a first and second
plan with the craftsmanship of filmmaking - the author's text is performed
on the proscenium while in the background painful things happen.
Itzhak Finzi's Mr. Paul, Hristo Mutafchiev's Helm and Biliana Kazakova's Anita
are indeed characters who will trouble the minds for long
peripheral, the role of autistic Anita might finally bring Biliana Kazakova
an award for up-coming star. As for Mr. Paul, it naturally is another wild
acting mare Itzah Finzi has saddled, but this could hardly surprise anybody.
Old Paul and loony Anita are the most helpless and free people in this story.
The tragicomic old man who makes a living by stuffing animals and embalming
political leaders, gradually piles so many meanings and problems about that
one might in fact argue what is central to the play indeed. Whether the "stench
of decay", which Mr. Paul claims he always overcomes, or the obvious
collapse of greed, or the hermetism of the philistine, or the exchange of
the property at home for freedom. Or the incredible attempts of the free man
to protect himself
It is up to the audience to decide really.
play obviously allows for a naturalistic approach
The set design (Alexander Molyanov) and the costumes (Milena Pantaleeva) state
an inclination towards ultimate truthfulness - even the wallpaper is there.
Unlike the beautiful pieces of furniture the author mentions, each with its
own history and atmosphere, the stage is full of remains of furnishing familiar
from the standard middle-class model - the concrete panel building.
It is especially notable that director Garo Ashikyan has refused the dark
humour and the grotesque clownade of the author's culmination in the murder
scene. After what seems like eternal tolerance, Helm is brought to utter hysteria
in the impossibility of removing Mr. Paul from his way. He slaughters him
with an ax |just as Razkolnikov murdered the old woman) and that is done in
a typically farcical style
In the production the murder scene is in
complete darkness, and the naturalistic logic leaves one with the impression
that it has only happened in Helm's mind. In this production aristocratic
Mr. Paul appears only now, to return in his silk robe.
The motto of the play is a quotation from the Grimm Brothers' tale "The
Difficult Child" which is allegorically connected to the play
challenged Anita, whom the author has given silence, has found movement in
the production - very well interpreted by Biliana Kazakova. The character
to an extent is like the other side to the protagonist Mr. Paul, which is
an achievement of the director.
Lidia Vulkova (Luise) also manages to find the ambiguity of her character
- equally ridiculous as it is real in the nuances between the absurd and the
romantic, in search of a more complex, not literal interpretation.
In most of the performance Itzhak Finzi is in monologue.
He moves from
senile helplessness - physical and mental - to the vibrant resourcefulness
of the playing man, unnoticeably changing and yet so much himself - sprawled
across impatience, intentions and plans Mr. Paul. Full of life and cunning,
slipping away but still remaining the very essence of him, which - when necessary
- would even claim helpless. An actor with an extremely theatrical presence,
eccentric, Itzhak Finzi overcomes the limitations of the interpretation and
finds possibilities for more layers than one. His internal flexibility draws
the outlines of a notable intellectual presence behind the obvious senile
inadequacy. He creates the impression of weight and immobility -metaphorical
standing for the un-useful creatures who through their statics become a dynamic
obstacle to movement. And it is in this theatrical remodeling of static and
dynamic that the actor manages to bring out the layers of meaning in the text."
"Literaturen vestnik", 29 Jan. '03