Fatelessness condensed into one descriptive word would spell P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. The one man show starring Adam Boncz is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Imre Kertész (a Holocaust survivor).
Picture yourself sitting at the Thanksgiving table and granddad is telling you about an experience in his youth which just captures your interest. Instead of seeing granddad, you see his younger self in your mind. You are trapped in his riveting tale.
Boncz plays fourteen year old Köves Gyuri. Gyuri is the embodiment of innocence and naivety. He is surrounded by a purity bubble so thick that it takes a while for his mind to understand what it is that is occurring around him.
We follow Gyuri as he leaves his home in Budapest Hungary and boards bus that he believes is transporting him to a job location. His bus ride is cut short, and he is thrown off the bus. He meets his coworkers (all Jewish) already at the stop. Gyuri then travels between concentration camps, giving a first person account of every aspect of his journey.
We feel for Gyuri, thanks to the innocence of the character and the life that Boncz breathes into him. You will hear yourself in your head repeatedly saying “oh man, he has no idea what he has fallen into.”
There is a particular moment when Gyuri realizes that he is dressed like one of the individuals he wrote off as prisoners when he arrived at the first concentration camp. The staging, wardrobe transition as well the words and acting in that scene are truly a work of art.
Boncz is invested in his role; he is Gyuri. My only real critique is that the decaying of Gyuri’s innocence could be played with a bit more following the realization scene. Also the jumps between other characters could use more differentiation of voice.
One of the most memorable aspects of the show is the set design by Lauren Mills. It is one of those sets that photographs just cannot do justice. In front of the audience there are costumes reminiscent of the 1940s (both men and women’s wear) hanging with numbered tags. They are above a floor which looks like white powder was thrown on. The clothing create a collage of browns, whites, greys and blacks. They are dirty/dusty in appearance. They also serve as the backdrop for Sean Robinson’s projections and Frederico Restrepo’s lighting which help transform the space into trains and gas chambers. The hung garments set the mood when you enter the theater and amplify empathy throughout. Seriously, it was a brilliant idea and director Gia Forakis handles the contents of the production with exemplary skill. She makes sure to not weave everything into a cheesy mess.
Even though the author clarified the story as fiction, there is a wealth of information given about life in the camps. I can see this show being used as a teaching tool. I would have liked to see such a piece while covering works like “Night” by Elie Wiesel in High School. This form of media seems just right for this generation’s students—there is certainly opportunity within that target group.
Fatelessness is definitely a must see production. I do believe that there is still some polishing left to do with the script but very minimal. Certain dialogue/lines here and there can be omitted because they take up time but in all the show is terrific. I for one believe it deserves a longer run.
Fatelessness: Written by Imre Kertész, adapted by András Visky and directed by Gia Forakis.
With: Adam Boncz (Koves Gyuri), Tim Wilkinson (Translater), Dorottya Mathe (Consulting Producer/Production Manager), Lauren Mills (Set Designer), Frederico Restrepo (Lighting Design), Bálint Varga (Composer), M. Florian Stabb (Sound designer), Sean Robinson (Video and Projections Design), Natalie Zhang (Stage Manager), Riley Teahan (Assistant Director), Victor Morales (Video Projectionist), Chelsea Parrish (Light Board Operator), Chriz zaborowski (Assistant to Lighting Designer), Viktor Franyo (Set Design Assistant), Gabriela Lozada (Camera Operator) and Jonathan Slaff & Associates (Press Representative). “HERE Arts Center” (145 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10013). It runs for 75 minutes, no intermission.