How much easier it would be to deal with this: age doesn’t matter, only what happens between two people. Or: it’s a private matter. Or: it’s 2023, it’s ridiculous to think in the old categories. There are so many ways to snap off the onlookers who raise their eyebrows and say “wow” when they see a middle-aged woman (mother!) with a young man.
And then there is Kata Pető, who does not apologize. But it does not ward off the doubters. He’s not saying there’s nothing to see here. He does not lie that the situation is self-evident and natural to him. He doesn’t hide in order to remain unnoticed (he’s not a tabloid star, after all), and he doesn’t start a movement to break down social conventions.
What she didn’t expect happened to Kata Pető – she fell in love with a man 19 years younger than her – and it made life so complicated that she had to think about it. Loudly. Also in theater language.
It’s good that he did!
How much braver and more useful than snoozing and letting people whisper behind your back. And how true it is that this is also a topic of public interest. It does not affect only him. I also know quite a few girls (or women, mothers) who have had this happen to them…or could have had it happen to them. You could say it’s a phenomenon of the times. Why? This is also an interesting question, it would be good to investigate. What else is the theater for, other than to think together?
It is so liberating to see that you can stand on stage with this, treat it as a real dilemma, examine it from the outside, the inside, the bottom and the top – amidst laughter, self-complaining and self-forgotten moments.
Kata Pető, the originator and main character of the play, searches and researches the external and internal driving forces. He brings up how old this motif is in literature (what an irony, he also plays a classic example in another performance, the Medeain); examines how many harmful, traumatic relationships she has had with men her age; shows an example of how different it all looks when the line-up is reversed (the man is older); and of course he looks for his roots in his family background, although it seems in vain. I’m writing Kata Pető, but it’s not really her anymore, but the hero of the play, Eszter, who grew up in a Christian-conservative environment: an opera critic with two little boys and a secure job… but it’s a fiction that an opera critic can make a living from his profession today.
And in the meantime, this intellectual woman from Budapest is also a MILF in some people’s eyes. Supposedly. Mother I’d Like to Fuck (mother I would fuck).
Accordingly, Eszter does not appear before us as blue stockings, but in the skin of a Barbie doll-style porn star: with blonde hair, a pink mini-suit (a ratty skirt that barely covers the bottom, skimpy underwear), white ankle socks and red stilettos, and a neon tube, a striptease bar, a fur rug, a pink in an apartment decorated with a refrigerator, while Bartók Bluebearddissects the game.
And she is not even the confusing element of the performance, in fact, Eszter’s personality is completely acceptable and coherent, even in the middle of such a “crisis”, as she falls apart accordingly. What is much more provocative – precisely because of his naturalness – is his partner, who plays the young love interest, who assists the show in a string of underpants. (Certainly, because he is also an imaginary porn actor. Or because this is how his youth can really be emphasized.) In addition, Barnabás Rohonyi changes his underpants at least five or six times on stage (don’t worry, he always has one on), which he uses to portray different characters, but primarily and especially Eszter’s love interest, Isti, who watches her love’s inner struggles as a bystander, because for him it is (apparently) a much simpler matter. Until the end…
But let’s not get too carried away, let’s focus on the fact that here are these two brave, open and edgy people who literally put their skin – and their relationship – on the market, who are willing to make clowns of themselves, but only to heal their wounds. will also be revealed, and let’s get them to the point that, after all, it doesn’t matter how old they are? If we weren’t reminded of it every ten minutes, we would never have figured it out in our stinking lives.
They used to say that men are at their best when they are over forty, but now we can see a woman who is too. Not only is he physically explosive, but humanly he is so full and rich that there is much to admire
– and if we now separate the actor from the character, we can add that artistically he also gives his most colorful and bravest performance to date. Because he dares.
Is it any wonder that anyone falls in love at any age? We understand the young man who would follow her anywhere and do anything for her. We see that too. And it’s nice to see them together.
Although the intimate, loving moments are left out – they didn’t even want to romanticize the line-up – but still, the essence comes from the cooperation and harmony of the two actors. And they are equally sensitive, funny, self-deprecating, musical and fallible. They hang on a string.
One would think that it would be enough to condense such a topic into an hour and a half, but they fill a regular, all-evening presentation, and we are not bored during it. I don’t claim that I saw the point of recalling every family story from the past (there were times when I felt that they were only needed to publish a decent piece), but there was no idle talk, and they spoke directly and honestly to us throughout.
Gergye Krisztián is a fresh and sparkling director, like Csaba Horváth, he simultaneously deals with the holy trinity of text, music and movement, but with him, we also include visuals as an emphasized theatrical element. It attacks from all sides, and from everywhere demandingly, but its formality is freer and gives more space to personality. The most striking thing about the text of Viktor Kovács and Dominik Kovács is that it was at the same time well-thought-out, elaborate, molded and unabashedly honest.
They just avoided the most important question, but I’m not saying this ironically. What can a 25-year-old man answer to the question of whether he wants children and, if so, when.
However, in the case of a woman in her forties and a man in her twenties, this is the only really pressing question – not the tightness of the skin, not the differences arising from different stages of life, and not what others will say.
As Eszter says in the play: “I have a maximum of two more years to give birth, you have forty.” We understood that the biggest challenge of this kind of love is the future – unfortunately, the woman is already much more aware of this. But then it turns out, he’s not the only one.
Of course, there are encouraging examples (such as Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron, or Andrea Zsadon and Tibor Szolnok), but let’s be prepared for it: this kind of love doesn’t always end with a happy ending either. Like no other. But in the meantime… why would one deny oneself?
Pictures: Dóra Gulyás