Dušan Kovačević: Limunation
Directed by Nebojša Bradić
National Theatre Niš
Since two days ago, the National Theatre in Niš has a new stage play on the repertoire. It is about the text “Limunation” written by Dušan Kovačević, and directed by Nebojša Bradić. The costume designer is Marina Medenica, Vera Obradović is in charge of the stage movement, and the set designer is also Nebojša Bradić. Limunation – a word that you will not find in a dictionary, a distorted form of the noun illumination, which denotes illumination, but also enlightenment. In the case of the drama with the same title by Dušan Kovačević, as well as the title of Stevan Sremac’s narrative that the drama was based on, it is about an extremely sarcastic use of this corrupt form. The society this limunation should arrive to is not at all ready to be illuminated or enlightened.
To a typical, illiterate and backward Serbian village, Sremac brings a fantasy teacher, a propagator of advanced ideas who soon slips into the mud and reality, but never stays long enough in any village to see the true reach of this imaginary enlightenment. And while for Sremac the emphasis is on the provincial spirit and mentality, for Kovačević, this spirit is the background where the teacher is distinguished as a phrasemaker and demagogue, a seller of empty words, a slogan maker who just blurs the current state and goes away without considering the consequences. In a word, a politician. Nebojša Bradić directs this bitter-ridiculous satire as a grotesque, visually parodying naive painting, but discoloured in black and white variant. The choir of peasants with faces twisted in masks and waving hands in exaggeration as if choreographed pass along the stage and make comments about themselves, and are in fact passive observers of the whole event. The event is brought down to the arrival of a full-time teacher full of slogans, who propagates the introduction of democracy into the village, initiates the overthrowing of a farmer, in order to place another equally bad in his place, and then without changing anything goes away to introduce limunation in the next village and in the same way. Dejan Cicmilović builds this teacher Sreta deprived of any human emotions, focused on his recitations, which he pronounces staring somewhere above the interlocutor’s head. Ćir Djordje by Aleksandar Mihailović, a teacher’s candidate for new government, is a mercantile egoist, whose wide range of discrete reactions Aleksandar Mihailović gives suggestively as usual. A boyishly charming former officer, in the interpretation of Aleksandar Marinković enters the teacher’s team playfully, as if joining in a new game and a career. In the compact, large ensemble of the performance, everyone has given a precise contribution, with Marko Pavlovski, a fellow in a pub, standing out- as if he were plugged in the electricity – with special playfulness and wit.
As a set designer, Nebojša Bradić has left a dark, empty scene, with a wall in the background, made of planks, semi-permeable, unable to protect himself from anybody’s eyes, or from the wind and cold.
At the end of this narrative about the political and ideological masquerade, the word “limunation” is printed in capital letters. I have to admit that I expected a real New Year’s lighting to flash and limunate the team on the stage, and the audience.
”Cultural Circles” Radio Belgrade 2
December 3, 2018