Seasons Archive

Lottery Tickets

after I.L. Caragiale

Lottery Tickets

after I.L. Caragiale

Alexandru Dabija
Helmuth Stürmer, asistent Andrada Chiriac
Liliana Cenean, asistent Irina Moscu
Alexandru Dabija
Assistant Director:
Patricia Katona
Stage Movement:
Florin Fieroiu

Premiere: 12.06.2012

Last performance: 24.01.2020

Duration: 1 h / Pause: No


40 lei

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The director of the show "Lottery Tickets" (staged after the short story with the same name by I. L. Caragiale), Alexandru Dabija, who "sees enormously and feels monstrously", makes a moving demonstration about how we, the modern people, can imagine a classic writing. A different Caragiale, meaning, one in a dramatic reading that provokes tingles and emotions. The play is about hazard, luck and bad luck, about fatality that gains a perfidious physiognomy. Or, as the stage director would say, a Caragiale in its horror version, in that the drama graciously combines with black humour.

Translated by: Izabella Feher


Gipsy women: Ana Ciontea
Corina Moise
Ilona Brezoianu
Eliza Păuna
Mrs Popescu: Nicoleta Lefter
Valentina Zaharia
Mr Lefter Popescu: Gavril Pătru Storyteller: Marius Manole
Mr Captain Pandele: Mădălin Mandin Mr Commissioner Turtureanu: Daniel Hara
Mr Georgescu - The boss: Mihai Munteniţă Mitica, The Attendant: Eduard Mihai Cîrlan
Axel Moustache
Newspaper seller: Ionuț Toader The Banker: Dragoş Dumitru
Cop executioner: Marcel Bălănescu

"Officially inaugurated on the occasion of the "Lottery Tickets" premiere in the presence of Ion Caramitru, the Small Hall is a multi - functional artistic space of the theatre, in full Caragiale year, animated by the spirit of modernization. Modern is also the show of Alexandru Dabija, whose creative prolific wires have been knit in recent years into a coherent artistic program.

The insidious physiognomy of hazard is depicted by the expressionist cabaret make-up, somewhere macabre. And the mischievous will of destiny is reflected in the sharp edges and cool, metallic flashes of the stage set, imagined by the venerable stage designer Helmut Stürmer. (...) Caragiale's world is re-created with Dabija's own humor. "

Maria Zarnescu, Yorick - Money is the root of all evil   

"The resuming of a staging after I.L. Caragiale in full political scandal, in a strongly inflamed social context, in a feverish state of uncertainty, was a decision if not wise, then certainly interesting, as for a moment we realized that the present Romanian reality surpassed even Caragiale's imagination. Another revelation is that of the accursed "vice versa," with all its nuances and meanings, which continue to entangle and untangle according to unwritten laws. Lefter Popescu's "journey" in search of the winning tickets resembles our everyday striving for fairness and dignity.

"Lottery Tickets" returns with a freshness that even the atmosphere of the present Romanian society, in which Caragiale's work is not only topical, but sometimes even exceeded by our fantastic reality. Like a kind of "vice versa," a magic word uttered with a smile on the lips and turning our fate against us, throws us into a dark, cold and macabre world, like the one in the show, wherefrom we cannot find the way back".

Oana Bogzaru, Yorick - Lefter Popescu on the impossible pursuit of happiness   

"Thank God, Alexandru Dabija does not give up and misleads us again. Atrocious, provocative, intoxicating, exhausting here, but magnetizing. (...) Dabija camps directly, massively, throbbingly, into the new obsession of Caragialean exegesis: the theme of the hysteroid cruelty. And, collaterally, of predestination, frenzy of dementia and life as a diabolic dream. Everything mixed with the tried-and-tested conscience (Caragialean, Cioroanian and, in fact, largely Romanian) of the misfortune. Of the damned nothingness, in a phase-shifted carnival, sinister and grotesque alike. (...) Certainly, the competent audience shall delight in vibrating with a frown at the multitude of cultural allusions and quotes, or shall be shaken by the bold hors-texts of the direction, and those for whom Caragiale means exclusively classical satire and gleeful laughter in the tradition of Giugaru - Birlic shall be compelled to accept the black version of a comedy, somewhat smuttier than the one imposed by the school."

Dan C. Mihailescu, Dilema Veche, No. 436 - Expressionist, good and choreographic Caragiale   

"The impeccable style of the show emanates, paradoxically, from the world of Caragiale and storytelling. Paradoxically, because we have not intuited it until now, although a text analysis would have suggested it to us, even from the voluptuousness of the devil’s evocation, as the ultimate argument of the action. Neither the human universe of the story composed of all kinds of Mitici, bank clerks, brewers, cops or peaceful workers related to those in Mircea Eliade's short story would not have let us fathom the dreadful scenes of Dabija's show, whose protagonists seem cast out of the fantastic world of dark landscapes. And yet, how true they all are, and especially how well-targeted are the topics discretely aimed at by the author and taken over voluptuously by the director!"

Doina Papp, Revista 22 - Cultural Bucharest, No. 119 – The National Theatre Festival, 2012 edition   

"When a writer is celebrated at a round number of years since birth or death, his name becomes in the respective year a fashionable brand. The good part is that the artist is rediscovered, reinterpreted, reinvented. (...) When he reads a classical writing, Dabija operates on the text, without intervening in it. He does not place meanings, he discovers them. He does not cut the painting to fit in the frame he wants, but he finds a valid perspective, suspect of being the very intention of the author.

Oana Stoica, Dilema veche, no. 440

„You can discover in Dabija’s adaption for the stage a tenebrous, expressionistic Caragiale, with a dark humour (...) The cut of the show is so precise, so masterful and surprising, that the comparison to the film becomes simply cheap.”

Catalin Stefanescu, Dilema Veche

"Can the dignity of an adjective be rendered? Yes! Only if the respective word is attached to the name of Alexandru Dabija, to the performance of Gavril Pătru or if it is made to function in a scenery created by Helmut Stürmer.

Lottery Ticktes, the show directed by Alexandru Dabija is sensational! (...) in „Lottery Tickets", Dabija takes the initiative, takes the phrase „farce of destiny" into his own hands, uses it as a paddle and detaches himself from the competition through the unique way in which the tensions the humour. He achieves a thriller in pitch-black nuances, in which fatality makes macabre jokes. It is Kafka, it is Gogol, it is Caragiale (...)"

Dan Boicea, Adevărul - Sensational!

"A new premiere is "Lottery Tickets", an adaption for the stage "after" the novella by Caragiale. This time, this "after" gains another consistency, being a prose writing adapted for the stage, resorting to its theatrical illustration, to the technique of the ... movie. (…) The well-known story of the humble clerk Lefter Popescu, of the one losing the gain of the two tickets to the wheel of fortune, is transformed into a theatrical film, and it is no longer a comedy with a tragic ending, but a bitter tragicomedy. (...) The show Lottery Tickets is truly worthwhile seeing, firstly through the stage design and the original intention of stage reading of a famous novella, for which new meanings are unveiled".

Ileana Lucaciu, Spectator – The Key of a Theatrical "Film", the Scenery

"With the aid of the incredible stage design signed by Helmut Stürmer, Alexandru Dabija creates painstakingly and tenaciously a plastic universe, a suggestive construction (choreography Florin Fieroiu, costumes Liliana Cenean), a bizarre mechanism. In front of us, on a turntable perpetually spinning ("E pur si muove"), the madness, the frenzy is born, amplified and fulfilled, of the one who gradually and definitively loses all hope – the hope that miracles exist, such as the luck of the unlucky. (...) "Lottery Tickets" is powerful, very personal, stimulating. (…) a great show".

Razvana Nita, – Diabolical Event, Destiny

"Alexandru Dabija dramatized "Lottery Tickets" and created a show that produces a strong impression on the audience. (...) It is an excellently outlined show, with the characters placed in a perfectly functional setting (created by Helmut Stürmer). The performers build faces that unveil destinies. Destiny, good luck, bad luck, misfortune, disaster ... In the show Lottery Tickets, luck induces euphoria, and the misfortune, on the one hand, compassion, on the other, horror."

Maria Sarbu, Jurnalul Naţional – National Theatre Matters in 2012 - Caragiale Year   

„On the turntable, the scenery spinning around – a transparent metal structure, with transitions and passages, on which characters constantly climb and descend – not necessarily a „wheel of fortune", the roulette playing an awful trick on poor Lefter (...) It is the world of Lefter without anchors, drifting, in which everything is worryingly mistaken. (...) The cynicism of Alexandru Dabija (his spokesperson is the narrator from the short story, impersonated by Marius Manole, the one observing, raising the eyebrow and letting the inevitable keep flowing) is boundless – and this results not in national vituperation, but best-quality theatre".

Iulia Popovici, Observator Cultural – The Ill-Fated Mister Lefter Popescu

“...a symphonically theatrical jewel about the whims of luck (a protruding theme in Caragiale’s writing), a theatrical symphony exemplarily directed, with a care for the pace of scenic exposure, rarely seen lately in Romanian theatre. (...) Maybe the best show with a text by I. L. Caragiale witnessed by me in the Caragiale Year. So far.”

Mircea Morariu, Familia no.12 – The Tragedy of Mister Lefter Popescu

"How beautiful the National Theatre is! The setting is gorgeous. A layered, transparent metal structure with interior and exterior stairs suggesting an inhabitable planet - Little Romania of the Great Year of 1900. How much matters the setting which lends substance to the comedy, the value of the show, gives joy and happiness even. It helps the audience to teleport itself. To meditate.

"Lottery Tickets" is staged swirly by this master of contemporary direction, who is AlexandruDabija, quartered in the essence of essences. Although joyful, the work is profoundly tragic. It's an urban Scourge.

The audience is captivated. It lives the drama, the scourge, the trials. Not the ridicule is underlined by the author, but the inhumane aspect of a ridiculous hope. It is destiny, and you do not play with it, you never laugh at it. You accept it.

... a smart, dazzlingly modern show, about luck and bad luck, proving how easily and unexpectedly the loser can become a winner vice versa. Helmut Sturmer, with his highly original décor, contributes a lot for TNB's "Lottery Tickets" to quantify in a great winning Lot."

Dinu Grigorescu, Literatorul - The Story of a Lefter at NTB     


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

Presented on the stage of the Mihai Eminescu Theatre of Kishinev, March 2018

Presented within the second edition of the Eurokontexts.k.International Festival, organised by the Slovak National Theatre (SND) of Bratislava, June 2017

Presented within the first edition of the MITEM Festival (Madach International Theatre Meeting), organized by the National Theatre of Budapest, 2014

Selected within the National Theatre Festival – 22nd edition, October 2012

„Lottery Tickets” inaugurated in October 2012, in the „Caragiale” Year, the first newly built hall of the National Theatre of Bucharest.


In 2013, director Alexandru Dabija received the Best Director Award at the UNITER Gala, and scenographer Helmut StürmerBest Scenographer Award, followed by a similar prize at the Romanian Comedy Festival. The same year, Marius Manole was nominated for Best Actorat the UNITER Gala for the role of the Narrator.


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

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