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Profile Mission:London

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A play with a message

by Stefan Bläske

It connects them all, novelists, playwrights, critics. It’s always the same familiar and annoying question: How to start?! When dealing with Aleks Popov's "Mission: London" one can learn several things about getting started, about the establishment of a world. It is partly because several London missions have been conducted, each with a different intro.

First of all there is the original, Popov's Bulgars novel that was published in 2001 and released in the Residenz publishing company in German in 2006 (in the translation by Alexander Sitzmann). Secondly Popov created different "Dramatic Pieces" with his partner Delyana Maneva, like a radio play for the Bulgarian radio and a theatre piece in English, which is available at Hartmann & Stauffacher. And now there is also a German dramatisation which is going to be performed in course of Spieltriebe 3, constructed by the dramaturg at the Theatre Osnabrück, Jürgen Popig.

Ghost of the return to the east
All visions revolve around the same central characters and plot lines that run together at the Bulgarian embassy in London. An enclave of exiled Bulgarians who want everything, apart from having to go back. Popov himself worked as a cultural attaché in the same Bulgarian embassy, but refers to his novel as a result of his fantasy. This result is meanwhile a self-ironic ambassador of his country and has been translated into German, French, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Serbian, Turkish, Hungarian, and some extracts even into English - although the English, if one believes the content of the novel, aren't at all interested in what is going on at the Bulgarian embassy, unless Scotland Yard is investigating.

And all this in spite of the new ambassador doing everything in his power to polish up the image of his country. He trustfully employs the PR agency "Famous Relations" in order for the Queen to appear at a planned charity event. The Queen-double pleases and betrays the guests and organisers, but not just that: In the service of "Famous Relations" even Lady Diana strips through Popov's novel, for a client who is greatly pleased by seeing his diamonds sparkle on the royal naked body. Illusion and reality, high society and lowliest scams dance Pas de deux.

Image of two systems
(Post) communism crashes into capitalism, one unexpected world follows another. Katerina/Katja, design student and cleaning lady at the embassy, first becomes an actress for a dubious PR-agency, then turns from a Diana double into a diamond thief and then is nearly killed in the name of a "revolution". "Mission: London" is short story writer Alek Popov's first novel, and he basically stays true to his genre - he interlinks his single "revolver" stories cleverly. The main plot aims relentlessly at the representative culture event, which is predicatively going to get out of hand.

This suits the embassy cook Kosta rather well, for now he can finally get rid of his ducks in a species appropriate way. Forty feathered animals were stolen at Richmond Park, the Russian mafia seem to be involved in it, Kosta stores his theft in his freezer, but the park attendants and police search relentlessly. Kosta realises just in time that the ducks are equipped with microchips and radio transmitters and takes them to a nearby park.

Hunt for a chip in a duck's stomach
One chip however does end up in the stomach of an embassy guest and leads the police and agents to an airport, where the duck-chip soars one last time into the air, destination Bulgaria. There it will probably end up in the water closet, which, as we find out right at the beginning from the proud mayor of Provafija, was invented by the old Bulgarians, 600 years before the Europeans.