A Holy Man
Original title: Sveti mož
2 December 2017
145 minutes inc. interval
A new play by Mile Korun, stemming from a tradition of bourgeois drama, presents a small close-knit community living in a bourgeois flat with a parlour, a samovar and conventional bourgeois rituals. However, its members are totally devoid of purpose and utterly disoriented. A family story is punctuated by postmodernist, absurdist and ludic dialogues oscillating from intimate intrigues to political schemes. As the playlet progresses, the motif of an allegedly holy man becomes noticeably present, turning each consecutive scene into a powerful metaphor of one’s feeling of being lost and bereft of any guidance in contemporary society. In this unusual play bursting with comic elements and surprising rhetorical twists, a holy man, resembling a kind of Slovenian Godot, features as an eccentric MacGuffin, constantly implicated in the plotline as an object that governs and directs the action. What is more, the characters of the play attach a certain importance to his missing or non-existent presence, despite the clues of his arbitrary presence and fragmented identity, attributed to him. A Holy Man is a tragic comedy with a well-defined ideological angle. It uses irony to express a disastrous absence of any contemporary neoliberal stance on political and social issues, as well as the loss of moral fibre, crushed by the capital.
Admittedly, it may appear at first glance that Korun ridicules the staleness and emptiness of a (post)bourgeois society. However, his dissection of human psyche is meant seriously. In this context, an acute problem occurs that the staging will not evade, namely, the absurdity of one’s search for purpose that constantly evades the protagonists of the play. Therefore, a bourgeois parlour, in which the play is set, should be interpreted in a broad sense. It is by way of the famous Nietzsche’s metaphor of »the church without God« ̶ i.e. a sanctuary, from which the saints have fled long since ̶ that one is able to enter a contemporary capitalist and post-bourgeois society, mounting a picture of a holy man on the wall as a result of its private, individual and grotesque needs only, or else, arising from its mental phantasms in the realm of St. Neoliberalism.