Boys of the Paul street
By Ferenc Molnár, László Dés, Péter Geszty, Krisztián Grecso
One of the trademarks of the László Marton’s musical shows is that he unites different elements harmonically, the other one is his ability to lead the actors. Crowd and solo scenes change dynamically, which has never been a problem for him, moreover, he is also capable of assigning the convenient role to the message that is encouraging, elevating and at the same time it demands good human behaviour and some heroism. This is, on the other hand, a basic element of this genre: one can expect from it neither meticulous social representation, nor complicated conflicts. To put it in a simple way: the „better ego” is at stake.
Marton is a great animator: the crowd does not only move precisely and rhythmically, but also effectively and enthusiastically, therefore it transmits this elevation, spiritual zeal, determination and inexorable human force. To make it more expressive: the irresolute, sceptic and coward ones defeat first of all themselves.
Set designer Csörsz Khell’s school desks transform within a moment into the bridge of the yard „Füvészkert”, in the same way as the tableaux of the city will become the wood piles in the Grund after a swift turn. Modern set, modern theatre. The Paul Street boys march wearing period school clothing with hats, caps and bow tie, whereas the Redshirts, not accidentally, wear more recent duds, sometimes even puffer jackets.
The little students found an association, they meet, they vote, they practise democracy, Feri Áts and his people drill in military formations, execute commands without flinching, László Józan is a military dictator. A deliberate contrast: the boys, defending the Grund, their home are We, those winking towards the Eastern Red Dawn are the tin soldiers of the military horde that „einstand” everything.
Ferenc Molnár’s ever valid novel receives breath-taking topicality with Krisztián Grecsó’s dialogues, Péter Geszti’s brilliant lyrics that saves its adolescent charm. László Dés’s music, which grows into the military march of the Redshirts, builds upon the rhythm of hand claps, drumming feet and obstinately repeated whistling. The rap monotonousness of the tunes in Geréb, the traitor and Nemecsek, the hero’s songs will become more lyrical, easy-to-sing, and this adapts to the fantastic firework of the lyrics.
László Marton’s staging, apart from its broadness is meticulously elaborated in all details, and due to the young troupe that was established in the latest theatrical seasons, he forges the outstanding group with patronizing strictness into ensemble. The stage is full of movement and life, even the songs are choreographed, Csaba Horváth’s combinations are mostly based on everyday gestures.
The boys, preparing for the battle, raise each other into the air one by one. The storm of the war for the Grund is phenomenal.
The creators, or more specifically, László Marton had to face the same challenge as the film creators of the novel „Lolita”. There are various reasons why a 12 year old girl cannot play this story. The Paul Street Boys musical also demands actors who are a few years older, many of them closer to 30 than to 20 – let alone the teenage. Nevertheless, theatre is illusion, and this troupe of twenty-something young adult that „grow” into kids provides us with perfect illusion. To praise them we should copy the whole cast here. The way they concentrate on each other, the dynamism and the passion makes them lively. The only thing that comes to the mind of the hairy hearted critic is that the two leaders (Boka and Feri Ács, played by József Wunderlich and Lászó Józan respectively) could be interchanged. In an utmost modern play they could swap roles from night to night. There is only one person who is not interchangeable at all, Miklós Vecsei, playing Ernő Nemecsek, who does not only sing and dance, but he has also bath more than once. He received his well-deserved appreciation from the audience.
There is also an inanimate protagonist on the stage. The set. The main feature of this voluble performance is Csörsz Khell’s setting, which is always movable, turnable, which can be risen, which always creates new space, but never comes to life on its own. (Costume: Mari Benedek.) The only fly in the ointment about the background is that a too much informed person like me does not understand why some old pictures by Ernő Zórád depicting the Tabán area appear in a piece that takes place in the district Józsefváros.
It is also excellent about the show – sorry for it – that although elderly theatre creators made it, not for their children, but rather for their grandchildren, nothing of this can be realized. The show looks as if guys that have recently graduated from the Theatre Academy had dreamed it on the stage of the St István Boulevard. One does not need special talent of prediction to be able to anticipate huge success series, and not only because it makes up for a compulsory reading at school. I pull for them that the show will have the same fate as An Imaginary Report, The Jungle Book, The Attic, and however painful it is, that they will need to change the actors – to younger ones.
This show is a message to Ferenc Molnár
Master, if you happen to be around, pop in the Víg for three hours!
The abominable nature of power
László Dés, Péter Geszti and Krisztián Grecsó’s musical directed by László Marton with the choreographer Csaba Horváth is a real family theatre, as it has huge effect on both children and adults. The young actors play with devastating dynamism, world saving passion and giddy energy. It is undoubtedly a huge value to see it as a rare example for the case where the big stage production is popular and at the same time of high quality, it is welcomed both by the audience and the experts.
Group-work including that of the director, the choreographer, and the designers also serves the power of the show. It is also the merit of the creators, that they avoid using musical schemes and genre-based compulsory hokum-like clichés. The staging and the way of acting is not abundant with the effects that otherwise the big stage would make one expect, it does not try to affect with them. And it is able to affect with its being low-keyed. It trusts the pure power of the human and the society itself, which is a great decision, as it grabs us with elemental force.
The long and short of it is that now everything is at its right place, and everything works. So Nemecsek is unwaveringly honourable, the self-evident soldier can become a flesh and blood icon. The song “What for are we afraid, what for are we afraid, if not for a dream?” in the finale does not sound like a cheesy hit lyrics, because a show of two hours precede it that makes it authentic.
We are the grund
It was a bold mission, still it seems to be an excellent idea of the creators of The Paul Street Boys in Comedy Theatre (Vígszínház), which was born based on Ferenc Molnár’s classical novel. The authors of the musical play are László Dés, Péter Geszti and Krisztián Grecsó. The performance makes use of huge energies, a lot of youngsters can show their talent, and furthermore, we can face the always strengthening longing for liberty. For sure it will be success series.