16 February 2022
Everything OK (2021), commissioned by the SNT Drama Ljubljana, is a new Slovenian play that skilfully intertwines different realities of contemporary life. It is set in an Art Nouveau building which houses an escape room. Mr Franci, a rather lonely man on the verge of the autumn of his life lives in the building cleaned by the cleaning lady Lili, an immigrant from one of the republics of former Yugoslavia. The main plot takes place in the escape room. Mihaela, a student of fine arts who wants to do a postgraduate degree or an internship in New York after her graduation, works there on a part-time basis. On a Friday night a group of work colleagues from a big corporation arrive for a team building. Three narrative lines are punctuated by a poetic prose tale of the Timekeeper, a refugee story of our time; it has the structure of a fairy tale, symbolically connecting all three plot lines.
The group of co-workers represents an idiosyncratic culmination of the many symptoms of living in contemporary neoliberal capitalist society, marked by the corporate logic of their boss’s mentality. The symptoms include feeling overworked and burnout, fierce competition, drug abuse, covering-up sexual and other identities, as well as basic human hardships and anxieties that get hardly ever noticed, let alone supported in this people-unfriendly environment. The dynamics of the group is indicative of the speed of action in at work that often delve deep into people’s private sphere. The other two plot strands provide a contrast; Mihaela’s story offers two different endings and a possibility of one’s dream to come true. The story of the meeting of Lili and Franci – two common people – is a genuine counterpoint to the dynamism of corporate mentality, igniting some hope, perhaps even the possibility of rapprochement despite the misery of their fates.
Shortlisted for the Slavko Grum Award for best new play in 2020, Simona Hamer’s play features a refreshing novelty of contemporary writing and a witty portrayal of contemporary society with its diverse and conflicting parallel realities. Its key themes deal with the exploitation of power positions and of alienation in the broadest sense of the word, the alienation of the individual from oneself, alienation between people, and foreignness as a political category. Despite underscoring the many symptoms of the malaise of contemporary society, the play brings forward a necessary serenity, which allows the author to show the world not only in a deadlock, but rather as a reflection of the time that the Timekeeper measures out for us. Sometimes it changes more rapidly than we are willing to concede or understand.