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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Echoes_Jan Bárta: Sticker by Mónika Kunstár

Half-hearted doesn’t work in love or hate

“How could man and woman ever understand each other? They both want something different – the man wants the woman, the woman wants the man.” (Frigyes Karinthy)
Black and White… Yes and No… Me and You… (But where are WE?)
Jan Bárta’s play, Sticker puts everyday life under a magnifying glass. On stage we see a (married) couple, Hans (Jan Bárta) and Hilde (Halka Třešňáková), a pair of high heels, a man’s shirt and cufflinks. The actors are playing a game, or even toying with requisites, with emotions, but most of all with each other. They are continuously teasing and challenging each other, just to push the other one into the extreme. They use minuscule, minimalistic patterns of relationship rituals to draw up the scenes, which are becoming more and more obvious metaphors, like blowups under the magnifying glass.  
They use basic gestures (hugs, caresses, kisses), but with varying intensity. On a seemingly innocent and playful way, they keep on circling around the Parental Advisory Sticker, barely implying the adult content. They get into dynamic, full force fights, bumping and clashing into each other, because you cannot love, neither hate someone half-heartedly.
I love the way you breathe! The way you gasp! We don’t even need words, hearing your voice is all I need. Just do it, the way you always do! Don’t stop! If you step on the carpet, I can see you. Our whole world is the carpet now, our whole life happens here. We often split: you go right, I go left, but after anything we do apart, we get back to the carpet again. You know you have the freedom to change, but still, it all starts over and over again.
The audience also notices from the array of the gestures that “we have seen it all before”, the scenes keep on repeating themselves with small variations. But how long can this go on? The environment, the friends and families are looking at the relationship of a couple just like we are looking at Hans and Hilde on stage. Do the spectators laughing in the audience rows actually recognize themselves in these characters?
How many chances are left? And if you could start over in this very minute, what would you do differently in the next round? Let’s try it! Let’s start over! Okay, but how many times? Once in an hour, a day, a week, a month, maybe in our next lives too? Maybe we will! Because we just want to do so!
Please, not now, this is annoying me… Don’t dare to touch me! And anyway, I have changed my mind, I will not wear this shirt. I don’t understand you, only women act like this. You can kick me, throw me away, it doesn’t matter, you will get revenge for it. The phone is ringing on end, until you go to pick it up. Maybe you will get it, 3…2…1… and you’re there. Too late, I already hung up. 
In all their facial expressions and gestures, the actors are exaggerating, overdoing, showing us the very extreme. Until they get to a point, where the breathing halts, and all of its forms (sighs, gasps, huffs) become a sound of horror, pain and desperation, instead of affection. Is it a moment of realization, a still point, or just another pause?
Full of ellipses – just like a seemingly endless sigh. Full of exclamation marks – just like the sounds of passion. At times a few questions marks flashing. One thing is for sure: it would be terribly hard to put a coda to the end of this story…
Mónika Kunstár – KÖM by L1 Association

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