The Wall, the Lake
7 October 2017
First staged at the Drama in 1989, this »full-length one-act play« is an extraordinary and powerful text, bordering on various genres and drawing the viewers irresistibly into its world of secrets. The play is set in a living room, partitioned by a wall that Rudi and Lidija, a married couple, erected a long time ago. When people come to visit them separately, they both tell their own story of dramatic and fateful events that occurred fourteen years ago and irrevocably changed their lives forever. It was fourteen years ago when the next door villa, inhabited by a bohemian painter and his family, sporting a rather unconventional idea of free love and open marriage, burnt down. The events of the inauspicious night have never been fully explained, so the fire has been associated with crime, even infanticide, ever since. The couple who were just passive witnesses to the dramatic events in the neighbourhood, ended up in a maelstrom of passion, jealousy, resentment and new discoveries that brought upon them a peculiar sort of madness. In his psychodrama, Jovanović skilfully combines a conversational play with the elements of a nail-biting thriller and sensual melodrama. Rudi and Lidija interpret the events of the past »differently«, which gives rise to the absurdity of their dissimilar views while the viewers follow their conflicting, and yet parallel, narratives from a dual point-of-view. One can easily detect typical features of a disintegrating relationship in the couple’s amusing discrepancies. Jovanović, however, is after more significant issues: love, sexuality, madness, obsession and, last but not least, a gradual fading of passion, marking the inevitable passing of life.
The original staging of The Wall, the Lake at the Drama in the 1988/89 season is fondly remembered as an amazingly powerful theatre event. The cast featuring Milena Zupančič, Radko Polič, Polona Vetrih and Aleš Valič excelled in presenting an enigmatic story of intimacy and turned it into a universal portrayal of destructive human passion, conducive to loneliness, isolation and ultimately death. Re-reading of the play has revealed that in the many years since its origin, it has not aged or faded at all. It continues to impress us with its powerful writing style, and especially with its penetrating analysis of »the walls«. The fact that we erect walls to surround us with increasing frequency makes the play even more relevant and poignant than when it was first written.
The Wall, the Lake is a surreal drama, originating in one’s neighbourhood, and yet in a country prior to its disintegration, a country on the brink of a total collapse and an unfathomably bloodthirsty war. The walls, built by the people to divide them, the lake, full of drowned children, the blazing house. What sort of a reconstruction is possible, if any at all, and what should one go back to? Perhaps to the intimate feeling of despair only? Maybe this would signify a return of the calm, or possibly a sort of a warning?
63rd Sterijino pozorje Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia
53th Maribor Theatre Festival