If Chekhov was alive and living in Poland, he might have created this version of Krum, Hanoch Levins 1975 play about a man who returns home from abroad. In the hands of director Krzysztof Warlikowski and his superb ensemble from TR Warszawa, Levins drama of Israeli families and friends surrendering to time becomes a metaphysical meditation on the impossibility of fulfillment and the onset of death. Though set in Tel Aviv, Warlikowskis production rotates brutal, comical, and beautiful scenes with a fluidity only found in Polish theater.
When the maturing Krum (Jacek Poniedziałek) comes back to his home town after years away, he perceivesand gradually sharesthe boredom, anger, and desires of his friends and familys lives. He watches times destructive march: Liaisons lead to marriages, births, and funerals; dreams and desires turn to dull disillusionment. In the title role, Poniedzialek makes Krums passivity as moving as his anguish. When Krum dances at clubs and parties, the actor embodies pent-up pride and animal lust; when he sips champagne with a dying friend, hes the picture of a stoical man staring grief in the face.
Krums intermissionless 165 minutes display Warlikowskis unhurried but exquisite mastery of time and space. At his bestdispersing his tapestry of bodies, light, and scenes across a spare setthis exciting young director situates eccentric domestic behavior against sublime realms. Despite a sentimental note that creeps into the final scenes mourning song, Krum powerfully evokes how unhappiness can destroy, leaving us to grasp life only when death darkens the door.
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