Iranian director Mohammadreza Khaki plans to stage The Portrait at Tehran’s City Theater.
Opening night for Mrozek’s play is July 23. The director has been trying to put on the play by one of Poland’s best contemporary writers for ages, apparently.
“The play has a realistic structure. In fact, it is a fantasy which gradually turns into a realistic story,” says Mohammadreza Khaki.
All sounds a bit dull. Why have the Iranian authorities been slow to grant permission for The Portrait, then?
Maybe because the play – very much in Mrozek’s Theatre of the Absurd style - is, according to critic, Jacek Sieradzki, about two characters:
‘…Bartodziej prays to a portrait of Stalin, appearing to be a "child of the idol, one who seeks meaning and life fulfillment in ideology. Bartodziej is burdened by guilt and strives to impose order on his inner chaos by finding a punishment that would fuse his life into a sensible whole. But a second protagonist, Anatol, just released from prison where he was sent after being betrayed by Bartodziej, also turns out to be a "child of Stalin."
Jan Blonski wrote:
‘Both Bartodziej and Anatol are worthless people. And this renders them capable of serving a false idol, one capable of turning these weaklings into heroes - at least in their own eyes.’
Now I get why it will be a great play to put on in Tehran. Dictatorship, false idols, weaklings who think they are heroes...