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Author: Ana Tasić (Politika daily newspaper/ 29 Sep 2022)

At the end of the 37th Festival of International Alternative Theater (FIAT) in Podgorica, at the small Dodest scene, the play “Silent House” by the Iranian company “Saye”, directed by Mehdi Mashur, was performed, an aesthetically challenging, delicate, unpretentious and emotional reflection of the attempt to maintain life in the merciless circumstances (according to the decision of the jury, which consisted of choreographer Sonja Vukićević, actress Jelena Minić, and playwright Aleksandar Radunović, this production is the best at the festival). In the beginning, an empty, dark scene with only one table and two chairs gradually turns into a garbage dump of spilled objects, scattered screws, wires, and cutlery, which can be interpreted as symbols of unreached lives, and truncated existences. The duo dramatic play is performed by two actors (Mina Zaman, and Benjamin Esbati), who portray a married couple, a pregnant woman and a self-sufficient man, closed in his own world. His headphones are constantly on his ears, connected to the music on his mobile phone, which he occasionally pulls out of the device, playing music loudly outside, always the disco song from the eighties, “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul”. It becomes the light motive of the play, that triggers sad, repetitive, almost ritualistic attempts to establish a dignified existence, to dance, to live. In those short fragments, the woman dances, desperately trying to breathe, but it is not possible, because reality is inexorable.


There are very few words in the play, the stage action is built on ritualistic, slow, repetitive, and hypnotic movements of the actors, scenes of a woman serving a man, and symbolically expressive serving of screws and other inedible items for lunch. These scenes are accompanied by quiet, disturbing sounds in the background, which evoke strong feelings of anxiety in the viewer. Somewhere halfway through the play, we will hear through loudspeakers and recorded confessions that the action takes place in a refugee camp, where the actors have been living for five years, trying to collect and mend the pieces of their torn lives. The process of this later contextualization of the action is unusually challenging, suggesting, among other things, more universal meanings – passive aggression in marital relations and the superiority and persistence of a woman to save her life, happen every day. War and refugee are only radical forms, or we can even say metaphors, of frustrating life in the community.


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