A perfect image of desolation


Despite the notoriously known title the play has nothing in common with a famous Gogol satirical novel. The expression of dead souls is more literate than just an expression meaning  apathetic, hopeless, inner light lacking entities who are moving in the circle of their loneliness and unfulfilled ambitions. The tone of the stage production is underlined by semidarknesss surrounding the whole stage which will never be seen in full light. The impression consists of fragments, the same applies to the cone of light from the reflector evoking at times trembling torch light wondering into the hidden spots of the stage where a mosaic of interrupted stories is put together.

Inspite of that, the impression is spectacular – the biggest one the SkRat production has ever had on me. The scene stuffed with cheap furniture reminds of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – everything, even the coffee mug in oblique, but it is more than just coulisse, it represents a real household: a curved lamp is on, a flashing TV on the the stool which looks as if falling apart, a fridge opening its lightnened mouth, a crooked bed where a couple is sleeping blissfully.

(...) We do not live in Chytilová’s Panelstory anymore: it is not only the blocks of flat what has changed, it is also the overall picture of the problems of modern living.  The embodiment of emptiness, uniformity and despair of living today can also be (and quite unfairly) the sadly known Bratislava’s district called Petržalka, satellite towns built hastily on fields and meadows, on the outskirts of cities, in the middle of nothing, without social spaces and infrastructure, where behind tall walls, on miniature lawns, there are people blundering, equally alone and unsatisfied, and what is more, often neurotised by their life-long indebtedness.

(...) even though the eye of the Dead souls‘ reflector keeps frequently changing spots and situations which are illiminated to a viewer, we can easily identify several short stories unwinding during the performance. Interrupted at times they tell us a tragic story of a loving woman disappointed with her husband’s infidelity, an insight into a life of a devoted wife and housewife who makes her living as domina, a story of a man whose unfulfilled ambition is to be a ballet dancer.
Outer imaginary and estheticism hide the core of the action, which is real and naturalistic at times, scenes from the block’s dark places are not just sketched, drafted but shown with all their brutal, crude, bizarre ugliness typical for daily routines such as everyday getting up, hanging around the fridge, cleanup, tidying up and sex as well.
Creators alternate many repeated actions to emphasize‚ life routine‘ of these dead soul characters, whose ambitions have vanished away – tired attempt to go through the book, dumb fingers trying to play on the quitar strings or constantly repeated basic balet pose.
A perfect image of desolation...

Martina Ulmanová, kød 3/2009