Complaining Grows the Heart: OUR SECRETS

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Co-presentation with: The Baryshnikov Arts Center and Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center
Created by Béla Pintér and Company
Directed and written by Béla Pintér

Jan. 19-22, 2017
Emerson/Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Performed in Hungarian with English supertitles

Review by Noe Kamelamela and Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAIt is 1980’s Budapest. Communism is the rule of the land (more on this important info is HERE, thanks to the ArtsEmerson blog). Impotent folk musician, István Balla Bán can only get it up for children. He is inconveniently attracted to his step-daughter Timike. At his wife’s request, he sees a therapist to whom he reveals his disgusting secrets. Govt. spies secret record his admission and use the recording to blackmail him. To avoid responsibility for his illness, István spies on his friend who writes an underground, anti-Communist magazine.  Please note, the graphic sexual content in this production involves adult actors playing minors. It is appropriately disturbing.

The marketing for Our Secrets is misleading. Yes, a portion of this show concerns Big Brother’s surveillance of ordinary people for nefarious ends. Yet, the focus of the story is on the pedophile. We watch his relationships implode while the government scolds him for his disloyalty.  It’s occasionally funny, but mostly aggressively violent on the eyes.

We expected a show like New Rep’s 2015 Black Box Festival production of Muckrakers with folk music. Instead, Our Secrets is an equally as arresting production about pedophilia with live folk performances. The dangers of uncurtailed government surveillance take a back seat. Regardless of the quality of the production, which is high for traveling theatre, expectations were not met. It was like tasting milk when the label of the bottle says Coke: confusing and horrifying.   

The performances from the Company are great. They do an excellent job at shocking in order to educate. Each actor is responsible for both folk dancing as well as playing an instrument during the performance. The responsibilities of the cast alone make this an interesting production to experience. That being said, it is not one most would willingly choose without preparation. The ArtsEmerson marketing department dropped the ball on this one.

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