Örkény István

The Tót Family

The work is presented with the permission of the Proscenium Copyright Agency

Perhaps the surest thing since the outbreak of the war in Mátraszentanna is that the locals are waiting for people to finally return home from the war. This waiting for people to return home is even surer than Mátraszentanna. It is difficult to decide whether Mátraszentanna exists at all, because whether it is on the map or not, the same things happen there that can happen in reality at any time. Its pulsations, its misunderstood truths, its helpless rebellions, the perseverance to the end of the unknown all the way to infinity are all valid.

World War II showed too well that the beast dormant in us can get its way any time and break out of us. It showed that fear blooms slowly, almost invisibly, like an ice flower, and then suddenly freezes into madness.

The Tót family are waiting for Gyula, their only son. Instead of him, however, a major arrives who has to be entertained. He must have fun. How much do we sacrifice for our own child? What do we do with the troubled Major who arrives in his place, who arrives in this isolated space, detached from the real world, as a metaphor for the battlefield?

Sisyphus was rolling a boulder up a hill, and the boulder kept rolling back every time it neared the top. Not much separates the Tóts from Sisyphus.

There are no boundary defying differences in the grotesque. Comedy and tragedy come together, and realities come into contact with unrealities. In the performance, the soul of the author watches this on stage. They write it. They take pleasure in it. And they are  equally terrified.

In the introduction to his novel published in 1966, István Örkény writes: “If fate teaches a people to resign to it, it is, of course, difficult to brand someone who continues to put up until exhaustion with what fate has in store for them as guilty. (…) There are happy peoples: they are the rebels at the right time. We, Hungarians are the kind of not-so-good rebels. I believe, and “The Tóts” exemplifies this, that man’s only salvation is through action”.

The performance is a fusion of the novel and drama of the same title