Current Repertory

Powder Keg

by Dejan Dukovski

Powder Keg

by Dejan Dukovski

Translation: Felix Alexa
Felix Alexa
Andrada Chiriac
Light design:
Felix Alexa
Felix Alexa
Eduard Ivan
Andrei Florea
Andrei Florea

Premiere: 20.09.2014

Duration: 1 h 15 min / Pause: No


40 lei
20 lei (reducere pentru elevi, studenți și pensionari)


Copyright©Verlag der Autoren, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
All rights reserved

 The show is forbidden for children under 14 years old.

“Relax, you live in the best world possible!”, that’s what we hear every day. And yet, today Europe is sitting on a powder keg. Violence and murder have become common places. An upside-down world that requires the faintest spark to ignite - this is the world according to the Macedonian playwright Dejan Dukovski, one of the most-performed contemporary writers.

A dark comedy about the Balkans, with many stage versions in different countries and a successful film adaptation, “The Powder Keg” deals with a cynical, alienated humanity, animated by an absurd violence, speaking in a brutal, crude language. Nothing seems to justify the characters’ insanity. Nevertheless, insanity may be the only weapon of survival in a drifting world.

The stage director Felix Alexa presents a modern show, in which the scenes follow each other at a fast rate, like in a violent merry-go-round where the hyper realistic tones alternate with an extreme black humor.


Photo credit: Tudor Predescu



Dimitria: Răzvan Vasilescu Andrea / Mane: Marius Manole
Anghele / Gheorghi: Mihai Călin Simon / The Guardian: Marius Bodochi
Sveto / The Man: Andrei Finţi Ghiore / Kosta: Istvan Teglas
Ghela: Marcelo-S Cobzariu Svetle: Crina Semciuc
Ioana Mărcoiu
Alexandra Sălceanu
Evdokia: Florentina Ţilea The Woman: Victoria Dicu
Ana: Alexandra Poiană
Amelia Ursu

“The Powder Keg” confronts us with a violent world, a world of losers who, for an instant, by handling a knife, think themselves to be winners.

The success of the modern stage “cult plays” is not based on a theatre that reflects the world, but on a theatre that announces the world’s crises – from Henrik Ibsen to Arthur Miller. And “The Powder Keg” is part of this kind of plays.

Felix Alexa guides and accompanies his actors with a peculiar precision, with a keen sense for the concrete detail, with a unique insightful sharpness, without making himself highly noticeable, and without turning into an authoritative master. He is a coercive presence, nevertheless a non-aggressive one. He does not make judgements, he describes facts and people whom we are not fond of, but afraid to meet.

In this show, the actors’ performances are more accomplished than ever, and the acting unit ensures a lovely sensation of the “world”, an insane and excessive world that troubles everyone’s existence.

A collective team with distinct actors – that’s what Felix Alexa offers his audience".

George Banu, Adevarul - The imminence of explosion. The energy of the "Powder Keg"   

"Felix Alexa extracted the frailty of the human being, beyond the labeled violence. He has highlighted fear and desolation, cowardice and cynicism. It is as if the human soul is in a perpetual crisis. Someone dominates it. Despair!

Everything is well dosed; it is a balance that arouses curiosity from the very first scene, when Răzvan Vasilescu and Mihai Călin appear, in a pub.

... the violence in the play is mitigated by the black humor that the audience tastes easily."           

Maria Sarbu, The National Journal - Cynicism! Black humour!   

"Remarkable is the treatment of Macedonian Dejan Dukovski's" Powder Keg " by director Felix Alexa (...) He proposes a mosaic of violence in which aggression becomes a natural, alarming fact of life. A support for this radiography of violence lies in the scenography of Andrada Chiriac (...) In this setting creating an atmosphere for conflicts, director Felix Alexa carefully directs a brilliantly selected cast in order to highlight the dangerous spontaneity of violence.

(...) a bitter comedy, captivating for viewers.”                                                                                 

Ileana Lucaciu, Spectator - Successful proposal for ... a different kind of theatre  

"Felix Alexa’s show creatively highlights the absurd aspects, by telling the characters’ dramatic stories at a high pace and often calling on the actors to introduce their characters in a slapstick manner.

Alexa’s show has the virtue of talking about a world the taste of which we still feel now and then. It is the despicable universe we somehow managed to get out of, a universally absurd universe that the recent history as well as the local customs aborted in this geographical area, a universe that we ought to replace because we have the responsibility to never allow a second comeback".

Mihai Brezeanu, Liternet - The world we emerged from      

"Good connoisseur of the technique of „insolitation”, Dukovski writes his text as if he were taking a string of nesting dolls and turned them upside-down: from the small doll a bigger one, from the larger one- an even larger one and so on, until the last, apocalyptic one. It is just that, instead of nesting dolls, there are people who progressively devour each other, so that an initial aggression prolongs into another aggression, fiercer, rising like a bubonic plague epidemic. This was deeply understood by director Felix Alexa, who knew how to impress the show with a sustained crescendo with nerve, energy, subtlety, cynicism.

... a show that you have to put on the agena!"                                                                                

Gabriela Hurezean, Muses and Arms – NTB Premiere: "Powder Keg" or nesting dolls turned upside down  

“The show, directed by the tireless Felix Alexa, proposes an exceptional cast and it is increasingly harder to tell if the actors or the text raise this anti-tribute to madness into the night. (...) The "Powder Keg" naturally contains ribald language. Ribald, but not obscene, vulgar, but not meaningless. That's how the blood flows in the Balkans, among biting words. There is, however, a code of honour in this alienated universe, in which the rules seem suspended. It's a hard-to-read code, for it comes from a tangled history and minds that refuse to surrender altogether to reality."

Andrei Craciun, Metropolis Newspaper - Happenings from the Balkans   

"A series of violences, often gratuitous, unfolds before the eyes of the spectators, in a graceful arrangement and with some first-rate actors such as Răzvan Vasilescu and Marius Manole, but not least Andrei Finti, Marius Bodochi, Victoria Dicu, Florentina Ţilea, Marcelo S. Cobzariu, Mihai Călin and Istvan Teglas.

With a mobile scenography and adapted to the different environments in which these scenes are happening, signed by Andrada Chiriac, director Felix Alexa achieves a carefully conceived performance, of great impact on the audience."

Nicolae Prelipceanu, Theatre Nowadays, no.1-2-3 / 2015 – Violence at any cost?  

„Powder Keg” was the name Churchill gave the Balkans after World War II, at a time when Yugoslavia was constituted. Dukovski’s play, far from rendering a politico-historical explanation of facts, concentrates on human relationships – imposture, love, humiliation, hearts like powder kegs and daily violence. The eleven mini-scenes, a political microcosm refined elaborately, are played by mainly young actors with an intensity and a precise observation of human behaviour which cause our blood to freeze.

Thomas Irmer - Theater der Zeit


About Dejan Dukovski

Macedonian playwright Dejan Dukovski was born in Skopje in 1969. He studied dramaturgy at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Skopje where he currently teaches at the film and television scriptwriting department.

With residencies in Hamburg and in Paris, he quickly conquered the European and worldwide audience with an oeuvre haunted by war and violence. After the plays The Last Balkan Vampire, Silijan the Stork, The Giant and the Seven Dwarves, Dukovski made himself noticed in 1993 with The Balkans Are Not Dead enacted at the Bitola National Theatre in Macedonia.

The true confirmation comes with the Powder Keg premiere in 1996, at the National Theatre in Skopje.

The play was performed successfully at international festivals (BITEF - Yugoslavia, Bonn Biennale, Autumn Festival in Rome). Since then, it has been staged in the Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria, Austria, Great Britain, Croatia, Finland, Japan.

In 1998, the screening of the Powder Keg, following a script signed by Dukovski, was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival. It also won the Grand Prix at the Antalya Film Festival and the Haifa International Film Festival.

Other successful plays followed, such as Damn He Who Started It ?, The Other Side, Deserted Cities / Like Brothers, Uterus, etc.

Translated into over ten languages, enacted on scenes around the world, Dejan Dukovski's work is considered a quintessence of the Balkan spirit.


Powder Keg in the worldwide press

"Dukovski’s idea is to present the Balkans through a metaphorical phrase: a powder keg, the place where everyone wants to go. From here, the motivation of the characters, their actions - murder, mutilation, infidelity, conspiracies - but their efforts will constantly fail. These marginal people are unpredictable, driven by frustrations, stumbling, resigning to a dead end, remembering moments of the past; people who have no clue how to come back, guided by a Balkan life recipe deeply encrypted in their genetic code. In this contemporary, private and collective tragedy, the grotesque, or moreover cynicism, is the main framework in which social degradation occurs (...) Each scene in the Powder Keg is a scene of its own. While one of the characters in the previous scene reappears in the next, the intermediate characters are the ones that make up the virtual integrity of the episode. It is for this reason that the same names in the first scene are found in the last, but in a different space and time - reality / dream.

The Powder Keg is a hyper-realistic allegory of the Balkan cultural and social stereotypes, lived by ourselves and observed and interpreted by others."

Emilija Matanickova - Blesok                                   

"Powerful ... A hard-handed description of cynicism and violence."

Time Out New York

"Dejan Dukovski's Powder Keg treats violence the same way Schnitzler treated the love and sex stories of The Dance of Love ... a dark and disturbing look into a world of violence that takes place while governments are changing and the average man is drifting away."

American Theater Web

"What is a human being who has no memories and therefore could not learn anything from his own experience? Macedonian playwright Dejan Dukovski raises this question in his excellent play Powder Keg and gives the following answer: an animal ... an ambulatory powder keg, ready to randomly explode or detonate by accident. At the same time, the playwright shows that this animal is not necessarily bad ... the author's idea is that the system - both the old and the new - produced a brutal survival strategy without memories or perspectives."

Me Lund - Berlingske Tiende

"In these vaguely intertwined episodes - some of which are extremely realistic, others rather humorous, most of the episodes being one and the another - violence can burst anytime, or it even bursts. The Powder Keg is a mosaic of the dark side of Europe and is among the best pieces written in that part of Eastern Europe torn by war. However, it is not a play about the war, but about its consequences: mutilated, dehumanized, hopeless, aggressive beings."

Jens Kistrup - Weekendavisen

"Through condensed images, Dukovski brings to the public attention the meaningless violence and the emotionless hatred. Kindness and evil merge, and the carousel of violence can continue indefinitely. This tragicomedy with immediate reference to the Yugoslavian war produced a sensation in Serbia."

Junges Theater Göttingen

"Do you remember the play of Arthur Schnitzler, The Dance of Love? A character in a scene appears in the next to create an erotic chain. Dejan Dukovski, a young Macedonian playwright, had the ingenious idea of ​​applying the same technique to urban violence.

Violence, according to Dukovski, embraces various forms: revenge, suicide, self-defense, or just verbal and emotional rejection. Putting action in pubs, buses, trains and parks reminds us that violence is not only ubiquitous, but also infectious."

Michael Billington - The Guardian


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu  

Presented on the stage of the Mihai Eminescu Theatre of Kishinev, March 2016

Selected within the NETA International Theatre Festival, September 2015

Selected within the National Theatre Festival – 25th edition, October 2015


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

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