“Tom in the Country” by Michel-Marc Bouchard, dir. Wojtek Rodak in TR Warszawa. Peter Zarimba writes for the Polska Times.
Photo by Morrissey Stankovic
The script of the Canadian author’s play is good, the actors play brilliantly. And a bit of press at the end… I know, I should feel the importance of the LGBT+ topic. But it comes at the expense of art.
“Tom in the Country,” adapted from the play “Tom à la Ferme” by Canadian playwright and screenwriter Michel-Marc Bouchard, seemed to me to be an environmental project at first. It was advertised in the Warsaw TR advertisements as a play about homosexuals. And in the theatrical program it is announced with statements: about violence against homosexuals (the author wrote himself) and about the harms of homosexual couples when it comes to presenting their relationships in the bosom of their families.
However, not a statement
I don’t underestimate anyone’s feelings of hurt. The point is, when screaming becomes the main goal of writing a text, it often becomes more of a press release than a work of art. Especially when it arises and then unfolds among people who feel and think the same thing.
And here is the surprise. “Tom in the Country” is an interesting literary story that is not often associated with the term “statement”. I don’t know how much of the author is in it, how much is the creator of the adaptation of Szymon Adamczak and director Wojtek Rodak. But it is a fact.
This is a story about Tom, a young advertising company employee from a big city, who goes to a breathtaking agricultural county to help in the funeral of his beloved. His older brother, Francis, forces him to cling to fantasy: he has to remain silent about his role and even claim that the deceased had a lover.
This is a version of the mother, Agata, a simple woman who lives under the mechanical activities of milking cows. Most surprisingly, Tom indulges in this home and family. He enters into a strange toxic relationship with them. Remains. In fact, he organizes a ridiculous act to fetch the alleged lover of Ibn Ajata. Finally…
It’s told in a surprisingly traditional way, even if sometimes we have scenes rendered realistically at a 1:1 scale, and sometimes a hero’s story that goes out of his way to report. But the mystery of the message is also a surprise. Yes, Tom was the victim of Brother Francis’ violence and pressure. But it also absorbs the foreign world.
The following situations are based on the paradoxes of the strange civilization that we know from Poland. However, the question of why Tom stuck to this place remains open. Is it just because he’s not assertive enough? Or maybe he was missing something?
Even the script’s authors amuse themselves a little at the expense of Tom’s gay-yuppie ritual. A larger cartoon, without the gay vector, shows Sarah pretending to be Natalie. It is all played out very expressively, full of unexpected metaphors based on movements and gestures. With good functional embellishment by Katarzyna Pawelec and disturbing music by Carol Nebelsky.
Sadness and a little press
However, despite the moral shortness of time, a terrible sadness emanates from him. Is it merely the result of feeling powerless (or believing that it is impossible) to reveal one’s identity? How about the different side puzzles that appear along the way? The deceased was a hermaphrodite cheating the whole world. Just because of the habit of hiding? Or maybe because so many people find it hard to find themselves? This fundamental problem arose from human nature.
I know, at this point, I will be accused of diluting the main premise, which must be clear and emphatic. Social, and possibly political. After all, we are dealing with establishing violence and harm. I might lighten it up, but that’s the way I took it. Also because I was watching a literary work, not a lecture.
In the end, it seemed like a double meltdown. When the event reaches its climax and the secret is finally revealed to her mother, Maria Mag, who plays Agata, sits at the table and reads the text added: excerpts from the book “Testimonials, Accounts, Memoirs of LGBT + People”. Suddenly we get simple catalogs of regret from Polish soil. Reflection, hair and dilemma disappear and are replaced by polytramot.
And then we have a proper ending. amazing. Bouchard writes that he has experienced happy endings, but that “stories of tolerance easily absolve us of our responsibility to find a solution to the conflict.” So he picked a bloody point, in my opinion a very poor explanation in light of what we got earlier. Elsewhere, it is also somewhat ambiguous. You didn’t convince me.
And then there was applause from the first audience, most of whom clearly depicted everything on stage as a story about themselves. Maria Mag reached the final with a rainbow flag, despite the Ukrainian flag being there for order. Director invited Rodak to make contributions to Lambda. Literature has become tangible. I find it a bit fatal for art.
The four representatives should be commended for this. Matthews Gorsky (Przymec from Lest There Are No Traces) is great. Here, like Tom, he is not afraid of being ridiculed or of himself. He even sings off stage, okay.
We know the advantages of Jack Peller. He’s a suitably wild Francis, but one-dimensional hard to judge. Maria Mag, who recently specialized in the roles of simple, cruel, but helpless women, is in a class of her own. Agata like the role written for her. Isabella Dudziak is not afraid of a heavy charge, but is perfectly in line with Sarah Natalie’s nature. Chapeau bass, thank you also I watched almost the entire show with interest, sometimes with impatience.
Will this “almost” make a difference? Well, I understand the double rationale for such artistic endeavors. Perhaps one day we will be able to say something more original.