Freitag, 30. Oktober 2020

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Profile Fragile!

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The 32-year old author, who is living in London at the moment, eventually approved of the stereotypical storyline: a fairy tale without a happy end in which the unknown is always understood as exoticism. It is as if she has constructed the politically correct play especially for Western Europe: All characters seem innocent at first; their biographies, which are never told (they therefore seem so sad) correspond to the audience's vague horizon of experience. In all six cases dreams crash into reality. Tiasha has to play the role of an ephemeral sleepwalker, in which physical-psychological suffering is expressed with lyrical outbursts. London is degraded to a code for homelessness, a place of dissolution in which an invisible yet nevertheless terrible civil war on money and advancement is raging.

A shared flat as miniature utopia
But "Fragile!" is much more than an open surgery on the old heart of darkness. The second storyline reveals the striking ambivalence of the characters. In this variation the suppressed identities play hidden main roles. Štivičić uses a second, less bold location than Michi's drinking hole: Marko and Mila's flat. The apparently unassuming bohemian flat in the foreign city serves as a miniature utopia and creates an absurd subsidence of the writer from Zagreb: Marko, son of a wartime profiteer, is Serbian, Mila is Croatian. Both are in their late twenties and "recognise" each other from the beginning, speak the same language, love the same Turkish mocha. However there is no approach that goes beyond the bodiless marriage of convenience, due to the repressive ideologies of the unaware representatives.

Štivičić's strong motive of the shared flat can be understood as a poetic-political analysis of the post-Yugoslavian coexistence of the countries. Mila (Croatia) prostitutes herself for all she's worth in the turbo-capitalistic West, as a semi-flexible artist, adapts, and advises Marko to loose his accent as quickly as possible, so that he doesn't get "stuck in their community". Marko however wants to act as the clown, as the comedian who turns the West into ridicule – a popular stereotype of Serbian self-image.

Symbolic references
No-man's-land remains invincible, guarded by vague fears: Just like in Homi K. Bhabhas "Anxiety"-concept of the third space. The other psychological connotations are distributed evenly in the accurate dialogues, which unfold their effect like in an elegant symbolist novella: Marko for example carries the name of a popular fictional hero of national Serbian epics ("Marko Kraljevic"), who saves them from humiliation by the Ottomans. In the seventh scene Marko finally protects Mila, who has a serious argument with Erik. But he still bows to Michi's "commands" and makes Bloody Marys, which sounds cynical if one knows that the Catholic Croatians see themselves as Mary's people.

One could easily continue naming ascriptions that take away the profound and at the same time all too predictable psychology of the characters. "Fragile!" is prime example of a complex play with hidden sarcasm, that cleverly plays off the simple Freudian against the deconstructive literary scholar time and time again. It works well when read, but on stage? There is a great danger of this lucid piece of literature being interpreted as a simple Balkans blues, as an old seventh room containing some rather messed up migrants with a lot of hang ups.

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