The play is
bookended by a press conference in which the father fields questions on the reasons
behind his decision to give his factory over to the workers.
Itís difficult to interpret the precise meaning of this elliptical fable, with its
political and religious references to the materialism of capitalist society and the
possible existence of miracles. The Marxist Pasolini appears to be attacking the
shallow values of the bourgeois class, which imprison not only those below them
but also themselves as they lose touch with their essential humanity. But whether the
ambivalent Guest is a Christ-like saviour or a destructive tempter is open to doubt.
Adaptor/director Grzegorz Jarzyna has stayed close to the spirit of the original
film while making the experience completely theatrical. Fluidly staged, the show
features some strikingly statuesque images, with sparing use of dialogue, but
sometimes seems to be a coolly, self-conscious exercise in style where it is hard to
engage with the characters. The three early scenes in which the familyís stultifying,
near-silent daily routine is repeated with slight variations make their point, but are
also pretty boring to watch, so that the show doesnít really get going until half an hour
Magdalena Maciejewskaís set is enclosed by wooden walls, with moving glass
partitions occasionally trapping the protagonists, while most of the stage is covered
by an enormous, thick white carpet, which is later tinted grass-green and desert-
yellow by lighting designer Jacqueline Sobiszewski. The electro-jazz score by Jacek
Grudzien and Piotr Dominski provides a suitably dissonant background.
The actors playing the family members move from robotic somnambulism to
more dynamic awareness after their awakening by the catalyst Guest. Jan Englertís
father changes from rigid authority to vulnerable doubt as all his old certainties
crumble, while for Danuta Stenkaís mother release of sexual frustration leads to
desperate promiscuity. As the frigidly virginal daughter, Katarzyna Warnke thaws
passionately but breaks down after abandonment, and Jan Dravnelís son discovers his
latent homosexuality but cannot find escape in art. As the Guest, Sebastian Pawlak
may not always project the charisma that the others apparently find so irresistible but
he does suggest that he is only responding to their subconscious desires.
The overall impression is that the Guest is a blank screen on which the family
project their own fantasies; through sexual revolution he enables them to see
alternative ways of living, though what they do with that new-found knowledge is up