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echoes _ X. Frissek Minifestival - Simányi Zsuzsanna by Bálint Orsolya

On high heels and high emotions

The opening act of FRISSEK Minifestival in the framework of L1danceFest 2014 presented us with an intense, compelling and ‘intoxicating’ performance of a 15-minute scene from a theatre piece (the original piece, Hotel Láv was the final exam performance of director Zsuzsanna Simányi, former student of the University of Theatre and Film Arts, now L1 resident). 
The actress (Piroska Mészáros) taking the stage like a whirlwind, featured a full inventory of feminine heavy artillery: red lips, deep cleavage, mini skirt, fishnets and high heels – “high heels are a must, if you don’t wear high heels, it means you are not in the game” – she says, meaning apparently the dating game. 

actress Piroska Mészáros photo: Szabó Roland
Sitting on a bar stool in the middle of the stage, she (self)confidently starts to give us hints on how to catch a man’s attention, how to give him secret but obvious encouraging signs, how to seduce him without him noticing it. We have read those instructions already in zounds of glossy magazines, still it is utterly funny that she shares them as her own recipe of success, her “Coca-Cola secret”.  
Meanwhile, she already drops hints at her personal story, explaining why she was out of the game until now – but can’t wait to jump back in again. Her lines (written by Zsuzsanna Simányi and György Baráthy) are dense and witty like a stand-up comedy act. Though some elements of the monologue are illogical or too obvious, the energetic, vivid performance of the actress draws us even more into the story which seems absurdly funny at first, but becomes more and more tragic as we start to see beyond her smile, which turns out to be only a facade.
She tells us about her last relationship, and the sudden appearance of a third person, the best friend of her boyfriend, who is acting hostile towards her, so she decides to seduce him out of revenge, or maybe just as a challenge. But things go horribly wrong – the dramatic and sorely ironic delivery of their disastrous visit to the dog pound is one of the performance’s highlights. His ruthless refusal breaks her heart and crushes her pride. Already humiliated and hurt, a last accidental encounter (some weeks later) with the two men and the new girlfriend of her ex ultimately leads to her breakdown. No matter how ridiculous or questionable things she did or said, we already feel for her, but instead of soaking in our empathy, she quickly shakes herself, and starts signing a song like a march. 
Her cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic, which she accompanies with playing on a small (toy) guitar, couldn’t be more grotesque and more heart wrenching. The song is a pop culture commonplace, but the lyrics suddenly sound dark and staggering in her context – recovering from a toxic (non-)relationship that did cost her dearly, still wanting to be addicted and ‘intoxicated’ again. Apart from her obvious self-destructive ways, isn’t this something we all – looking for love/thrill most of our lives – can more or less relate to?
For the refrain, a group of women (some of them visually challenged) join her on stage, just to scream their pain, disappointment and desperation – like a shared female life experience – into our face. The scene is both baffling and gorgeously comic, making us shiver and wanting to laugh out loud at the same time. 
What a dashing start of an evening, and an exceptional quality of a performance by Mészáros, an upcoming actress with a great potential. I also couldn’t be more teased to watch the whole piece directed by Simányi, a courageous, provocative and brightly talented young artist we should look forward to see more of in the future.

Bálint Orsolya - KÖM

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