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New York City: Poland Through Jewish Eyes.

LAUDED IN TEL AVIV FOR HIS RUTHLESS SATIRES and strong social stances, the late Hanoch Levin was considered the Israeli Fellini. In Krum, a 1975 work, the dramatist concocted a grotesque epic comedy out of small domestic lives, with an unmistakably biblical undertow: A young man (a prodigal son, you might say) returns to his provincial home with nothing but the visible marks of failure and a suitcase full of dirty underwear. Nothing grand or momentous happens, save the roundelay of weddings and births, sicknesses and deaths. But for the Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski, whose potent TR Warszawa production of Krum pulls in at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Oct. 17-20, there is a sad metaphysics to these rhythmic patterns of contemporary Jewish society--an emotional connection that struck deep and mysterious chords.


What Warlikowski disconcertingly saw in Krum was a vision of post-communist Poland--a documentary-like perspective of Polish lives trapped by the social and political forces acting on south-central Europe. Says the internationally acclaimed director, whose powerful 2004 American debut, The Dybbuk, melded the Ansky classic with a Hanna Krall short story, "Like Krum, I left home when I was 18. I had been spending a lot of time abroad. I felt less connected to the place where I was born. All the Jewish questions in the play became my Polish questions. Warsaw is a city full of singles, full of young people who just want to make careers, to find money and have lives, because with Poland entering the European Union, they see they've got a chance. It's a big chance, but is it something that makes us more happy?"

Through the works of Euripides, Sarah Kane and Tony Kushner, the 45-year-old Warlikowski is one of Eastern Europe's most significant voices. His homosexually themed Hamlet, brutal Midsummer Night's Dream and taboo-breaking Cleansed have earned him a reputation as an enfant terrible. Krum finds Warlikowski in an almost uncharacteristically Chekhovian mood. "What attracted me to Krum were the monologues, which are cruel and very realistic, but were put in a very conventional comedy," the director says. "I didn't agree with the grotesque form. I wanted to borrow from two sides--to make Jews feel that this play is about Poland, and make the Polish feel that this is about Israel."

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Title Annotation:FRONT & CENTER; Hanoch Levin's Krum
Author:Gener, Randy
Publication:American Theatre
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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