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MUSICAL

Review: Pied Piper: medium ruins message

In the children's tale The Pied Piper, the main character liberates an infested town from the scores of rats besieging the homes and lives of residents with his hypnotic flute. The town rejoices until his music again shows its strength, inspiring the town's children to leave as well.
The story, known around the world, comes to life in a Slovak version written by Daniel Landa. The presentation is breath-taking and tear-jerking. But the message - do not allow yourself to get swept away by foreign ideas - is often lost as Landa's role as narrator and commentator is officious and preachy.
The Pied Piper opened in Slovakia at the end of last year and will run a total of 100 performances until June. Directed by talented theatre director Jozef Gombár, a graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts, it has been repeatedly sold-out months in advance and often ends to standing ovations.


Viewers may wish that the dreary Daniel Landa (centre) would keep quiet.
photo: Soňa Bellušová

Krysař - Pied Piper

Where: Nová Scéna, Kollárovo námestie 20
Tickets for 399 Sk are available at Nová Scéna ticket office, Mon-Fri., 12:30-19:00.
Performances on February 2-3,8-9,10, 19 and 20
Starts at 19:00.

In the children's tale The Pied Piper, the main character liberates an infested town from the scores of rats besieging the homes and lives of residents with his hypnotic flute. The town rejoices until his music again shows its strength, inspiring the town's children to leave as well.

The story, known around the world, comes to life in a Slovak version written by Daniel Landa. The presentation is breath-taking and tear-jerking. But the message - do not allow yourself to get swept away by foreign ideas - is often lost as Landa's role as narrator and commentator is officious and preachy.

The Pied Piper opened in Slovakia at the end of last year and will run a total of 100 performances until June. Directed by talented theatre director Jozef Gombár, a graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts, it has been repeatedly sold-out months in advance and often ends to standing ovations.

The love story, acted out between the Piper (played on alternate performances by Peter Slivka and Marián Greksa) and his love interest Agnes, is beautiful and melancholy. The Piper, having been turned out of his home village by Agnes' father, becomes a bitter and heartbroken man who turns to hatred as his only refuge.

Misfortunes and personal tragedies are chronicled throughout the Piper's sad story. With each setback, his hatred intensifies as he sets about to destroy all obstacles in his path.

Renowned opera singer Sisa Sklowská gives a riveting performance as Agnes. Her singing is so stunning that her fellow performers are left sounding like charlatans as they try in vain to match her note for note.

But the beauty of the production and the quality of its actors are diminished by the abrasive presence of Landa. Playing the character Destiny, he guides the audience through the performance with explanatory monologues. His real-life arrogance tarnishes the performance throughout until viewers are left offended by his belittling, performance-ending line, "So, what's up, little ants?"

As the former lead singer of a Czech skinhead punk-band called Orolik, Landa is no stranger to controversy. A man of extreme views, biographical material provided at the performances outline many of his 'philosophies,' most notably concerning the poor relationship humans have created with Mother Earth.

By constantly preaching, Landa apparently wants viewers to realise what terrible, filthy creatures they are. While his criticisms of humanity's destructive nature are worthy of consideration, his delivery is so volatile that most viewers dismiss him as an annoying afterthought who was out to spoil the evening's real stars.

While The Pied Piper is a story about strong friendship, intense love and burning hatred - real emotions from real people - Landa is incapable of relating to the viewer, instead opting to lecture and angrily spew expletives.

His goal of the musical, he said, was to warn people through an "entertaining form" that they must collectively mend their evil ways, although he concedes that to do so is impossible. The only warning that deserves to be issued concerns Landa himself - go see the play, it's well worth it. But be forewarned about Destiny - you'll likely find yourself wishing he would somehow fall in the destructive and deadly path of the vengeful Piper.

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