Current Repertory

The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True

by Matei Visniec

The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True

by Matei Visniec

Botond Nagy
Andreea Săndulescu
Assistant Scenography:
Ioana Ungureanu
Original Music:
Claudiu Urse
Sound design:
Claudiu Urse
Stage Movement:
Botond Nagy
Ágnes Kali
Light design:
Cristian Niculescu
Assistant Director:
Patricia Katona
Technical Director:
Silviu Negulete

Premiere: 25.03.2023

Duration: 2 h 10 min / Pause: Yes


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"I want a performance where children seek their mothers' hugs. A show where they don't forget that their lives began with a miracle. That they were born. And that's where I'd stop time for a moment. This performance is the search for those seconds when a mother and child meet and only that moment binds them. Where no words are yet understood, where everything seems possible. A possible theatre. I would like to rediscover that theatre, where life is still possible, where death and loneliness don't reach out to us every morning when we wash our faces, where there is a dream, a dream that can embrace all our depressions and traumas. A healing dream, a healing life. A possible theatre of healing.

All our lives we try to search, find and bury within us those moments that contain our mother's care. To fit every puzzle in our lives, perhaps unconsciously under the shadow of her passing cloud. But even that is a game. We hide all our lives in the hope that the day will come when She will find us. And she'll stop the missiles in our neighborhood, shout out the window that it's late, that it's time for dinner.

I want this performance to speak on behalf of all mothers and women who have ever suffered, either by losing their children, never being able to have them or abandoning them, but who still have the chance to see, as for the first time, through the eyes of their children. If only innocence were palpable, I wish we could feel it for just a moment through this performance. And if we're careful, maybe we'll notice it before we step on it again." Botond Nagy

Translated by Andreea Codrea-Boeriu 


Foto Florin Ghioca

Mother: Maia Morgenstern Father: Marius Bodochi
Vibko, the son: Lari Giorgescu Ida, the daughter: Aylin Cadîr
Yrvan, the new neighbour: Răzvan Oprea Mirka: Ada Galeș
  Florin Călbăjos Greaseball: Ciprian Nicula
Caroline, the western transvestite: Mihai Calotă Pub owner: Silviu Mircescu
Kokai - the border policeman, Cerberus, The Death Bride, The Doctor: Cosmin Dominte Male Nurses: Daniel Lupeș
Andrei Bană
Claudiu Crișan

"... it is absolutely irrational and insane for a son to die before his father and a child to close his eyes before his mother.

On this structural monstrosity and on the insane cruelty that makes it possible is built Matei Vișniec's so substantial and profound play, and an "axis" of the performance at NTB is precisely the score of the parents struck by the misfortune of their son's death, and which bear the generic names Mother and Father. Played memorably by Maia Morgenstern and Marius Bodochi (this is his second reference role, after that of a father in Radu Afrim's Rehearsal for a Better World), the parents who lost their son in the war go through the two acts like specters: people aged by the misfortune that has befallen them, livid, with their hair whitened (Mother), with slow and almost disjointed movements (Father).  At one point, Father carries Mother on his back, who had fainted from pain. Bodochi plays that little episode so well (somewhat "sideways" to the community scene in which it is contained) that the shaking of his legs makes you feel as if Mother and Father are going to collapse to the floor. It's too much for any couple. He holds her back and they both carry the invisible cross of the Misfortune together. (...)

Botond Nagy has "translated" very well all these dramas that make up the tangled ball of Vișniec's play (and that's why the director's meeting with the author is one of the happiest here), insisting on the objective elements of the dramatic fractures between people, generations, eras and different systems. The whole show is about fractures that cannot be healed and boundaries, literally and figuratively, that cannot be crossed. (...)

A young director with a bright artistic future. The show is full of ideas convertible into image, gesture, music, stage movement. This is exactly the function of a theatrical performance, to my taste: to leave nothing "unused" and unexplored, to "squeeze" every minute of all that it, human-artistically, has to offer."

Daniel Cristea-Enache, Liternet - Fractures - or Our Children's Bones - The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True  

"A dynamic performance that highlights Matei Vișniec's text and brings the audience to the judgement table: why do we talk about wars and bloody conflicts in an age of technological progress? Why can we not restrain our need for supremacy and how can we resolve our inner conflicts without collateral damage. For me the text is far too explicit, I am given too many details or explanations, but for the average viewer born after the 2000s these explanations might be necessary. On the other hand, the show is constructed in such a way that it can reach a heterogeneous audience, consisting of young and old, theatre lovers or just amateurs of quality cultural events. A thought-provoking performance, or so Botond Nagy has found."

Nona Rapotan, Book Hub - Mothers never grow old, or maybe they do  

"The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True", the ambitious directorial debut at NTB of the young Botond Nagy with the staging of the excellent text written by a Romanian playwright of universal stature, Matei Visniec, is a great performance.

With the performance "The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True", director Botond Nagy brings a shattering, yet sardonic perspective to an Eastern European tragedy. Against the backdrop of the odious Russian invasion of Ukraine, the word war spoken at the National Theatre sounds terribly authentic.

Horia Ghibutiu, Blog de Ziarist - "The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True", the review  

"Botond Nagy constructs a metaphorical performance. A metaphor of death. Of disappearance. Death is not violent. It has already happened. It confronts us with what is left behind. The mute grief that can't find a word. The silent grief that strangles, that suffocates, that crushes every cell of one's being. The pain that transforms and colonizes the being, annihilating it. A metaphorical performance that confronts the grief of death with the grief of life. Humanity in disguise. Alive. Colored. Striking especially in contrast to the death and the sterility of the end. (...)

The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True by Matei Vişniec, directed by Botond Nagy is a lucid, surgical analysis of grief, suffering, war, the struggle to preserve humanity, but also a plea in remembrance of the victims of wars."

Luana Popa, Insert cultural - The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True  

"Following the human nature of absurd situations, the director respects exactly the playwright's intentions, perfecting the form and expressiveness of the emotions in powerful theatrical tableaux, in which the laborious work with the actors is excellently interwoven with the visual, choreographic and acoustic elements (especially the musical element, the original music is signed by Claudiu Urse!) and they manage to build together, from charming contrasts, a complex, new school emotional, intelligently matched to the language of the times and the needs of understanding of the young audience, responsible to learn the mistakes of history so as not to repeat them.

It is interesting how Botond Nagy squeezes out of the glacial and restrained characters the most candid scenes of human interaction and emotional truth that we all long for in this white/turquoise dig into the depths of the soul, after the miraculous moment in which the mother met her child for the first time, fresh from her protective womb, the only one who could keep him away from any harm."

Luciana Antofi, Blog – Bones with scars embraced in healing or the dust from the graves within us: "The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True". At National. 

"Both cerebral and unmistakably analytical, Matei Visniec writes everything he thinks in cold blood. A playwriting of absolute lucidity, cast in strictly personal forms. The poetry of the dead. The poetry of horror. A warning play. (...) The performance is built on maximum harshness and succeeds in making the unbelievable extremely believable. A macabre that is clever, and elegant, and realistic. (...) A surprising performance from start to finish, with a formidable team of actors. (...)Maia Morgenstern (Mother), Marius Bodochi (Father) and Lari Giorgescu (Vibko, the son) are a trio of great performances. A special mention of excellence goes to the highly mobile and expressive actor Lari Giorgescu, playing the deceased son who is omnipresent on stage in various states of invisibility alongside his parents and provides the main tragic axis. Four curtain raisers at the premiere validate an acting triumph, a significant directorial debut in Bucharest and the undoubted success of an original and necessary text written by a living classical playwright, staged at the National Theatre."

Dinu Grigorescu, Rinocerul Magazine - The Visniec Phenomenon at NTB – The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True  

"Mother (Maia Morgenstern) and Father (Marius Bodochi) go through their grief together, and, on stage, these two actors convey a terrifying emotion not so much through their lines as through their gestures, movements and grimaces. Even if they hadn't said a word the whole performance, they would still have managed to hit one with their pain, and that is a masterful performance, because it is emotion and pain created in front of the audience's eyes. (...)Botond Nagy alternates scenes of drama with scenes of comedy or entertainment industry, thus playing with the emotions of the audience. It is the border between life and death, theatrically transposed. (...)The show chooses not to create much emotional pressure on the audience, or if it does, it dissipates immediately through (pseudo-)relaxing moments. But these moments don't deflect the performance, don't obscure the deep message it carries. (...)Visniec's theatre is a deep, emotional theatre that has the power to surprise you, and to question certain pressing issues of the society. The suffering caused by war cannot be easily repaired, and it creates transgenerational traumas that can affect families for generations to come."

Andrei Bulboaca, Liternet - The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True or A parent's cry of pain rings terribly true  

"Visniec's stylistics and Botond's vision meet again, after the disturbing Return Home, presented at the "Matei Visniec" Municipal Theatre from Suceava at last year's NTF.

Maia Morgenstern and Marius Bodochi bring to the stage, with well-tempered emotion, with the shaky tone of their voices, with haunted glances and automatic, stony gestures, sometimes with outbursts of imploding despair, the horror of a child's death on the front.

Their son, Vibko, played with warmth and fragility by Lari Giorgescu, tries to establish a connection with his parents - because in the universe of Visniec's war plays, the living and the dead are not separated by a clear boundary (...)

... Botond Nagy's play-poem exploits and enhances the intentions of Visniec's text, finds the right notes, thickens the tones where needed, to show the cynicism of a present in which the very idea of freedom has been mystified".

Silvia Dumitrache, Observator Cultural - The word war sounds terribly sad  

"To the director's credit, he has found the right aesthetic for the two faces of recent history that stand side by side only to reinforce the plea for humanism and the need to return to sanity, overcoming the turmoil of the moment. It is underpinned by memorable dramatic signs (...) 

The sensitive performance of actor Lari Giorgescu, as the dead son, floating ghostly in a hallucinatory surreal and succeeding in imposing the presence of a world beyond where generations of sacrificed coexist, among them the friend Franz (delicately and discreetly silhouetted by Florin Călbăjos), contributes to the positive emotion that the performance conveys".

Doina Papp, Revista 22 - Young directors and the dynamics of repertoire (II)   

"After only a few performances, the performance The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True has become one of the top favourites of theatre lovers".

Mădălina Firănescu, Magazinul verde 6/2023 - Theatre cries out on behalf of mothers  

"Botond Nagy invented scenic actions rich in meanings and connotations, relationships of deep drama, performed in a way that combines the artifice imposed by the theatre of the absurd with the acute sincerity of burning inner emotion. It is clear and striking the inner thought dramatically transfigured so fragile and rich in images not only aesthetically beautiful, not only moving, but also congruent, subject to a super-realistic convention articulated, punctuated by a genuine sensitivity. (...)

The sensitive aesthetic form and the density of emotions concentrated in the two hours of the reconfiguration of the reality become the happy suspension of souls in the liquid with healing properties called poetry in the language of all those who have learned the lesson of beauty in the school called theatre."

Alina Epîngeac, d'E-pîn-geac - The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True” and the terribly authentic theatre 

"Three outstanding, impressively acted parts make up Maia Morgenstern - the mother, Marius Bodochi - the father and Lari Giorgescu - the missing son, in fact his ghost, whom the parents cannot touch, although they see it, they live there, in their village somewhere in the Balkans. Lari Giorgescu is a virtuoso of movement in theatre, including in Gigi Caciuleanu's dance-theatre performances, and here, in this part, he seems to surpass himself. Sure, his appearance as the ghost of his son could be interpreted as a reverse Hamlet, but that's not what matters. The play can be likened to Austrian expressionist theatre, where, in the same way, living characters meet dead ones and live with them. (...) Maia Morgenstern, an actress whose resources for reinventing herself are, it seems, inexhaustible, is here a completely different character from the ones we have known since Medea, and Marius Bodochi may seem to the spectator who sees him for the tenth time that, in fact, he is just discovering him. It's a rare quality in an actor to always reinvent himself, even if not in every part. (...) a remarkable appearance by Razvan Oprea, or Caroline, the western transvestite, an unexpected role for Mihai Calota. Aylin Cadir makes a special appearance as the daughter of the two, who has gone to prostitute herself in the West, where, however, she can't fit in one hundred percent in a world with characters without any scruples, but shamelessly proclaiming the principles of Western democracy from the position of pimps/human traffickers. A cynical but not entirely cynical appearance from the new local world is Ada Gales as Mirka (...) (Ciprian Nicula, in an unexpected role).

An impressive performance, The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True, it is one that awakens meditation on the world in which we live and the one in which our successors will live, if they survive the countless misfortunes caused by humans."

Nicolae Prelipceanu, Viața Românească – Three evenings, three ways of doing theatre  

"If you are the father of a boy, you'll leave sick from the play "The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True", by Matei Visniec, staged at the National Theatre Bucharest. It's a tragedy that apparently takes place in Serbia, but makes you ponder the whole troubled space of Eastern Europe.

It makes you take a hard look at the future of our children, scares you about what is coming upon us and makes you think about what a wicked world lies before them. The way Botond Nagy moves through past and present, unites the stories of lives lost and crosses the boundaries between life and death will twist your mind. And the scenes in which the dead and the living seek to reunite and tell their stories are unique in their craftsmanship.

Marius Bodochi broke me. I take a bow."

Cătălin StribleaFacebook   


Translated by Andreea Codrea-Boeriu

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