L’heure des confessions
OČIŠTĚNÍ / COMING CLEAN
6 men, 7 women, 1 boy, extras
Coming Clean, the latest play by Petr Zelenka, currently the most popular contemporary playwright in Poland, was commissioned directly by the Narodowy Stary Theatre in Cracow. „Stary" has exclusive right to produce the play for 18 months. That means that another production, be it in the Czech Republic or elsewhere, cannot open before May 27, 2009.
The main plot follows the story of the writer Jacek. Jacek has a guilty conscience because he had committed a crime: "in a sudden craze" he put to sleep, and then raped his friends' eleven year old son. The second story line is that of a slow downfall of a TV talk-show called Coming Clean in which popular and respected celebrities confess to their sins. That's where Jacek's publisher sends his author after the latter opens his heart to him and tells him about his crime and how he suffers as consequence. Every little bit in the media counts and can help sell Jacek's latest book. After some inner struggle, the protagonist applies and tells well in advance all those having played a role in his crime about appearing on the show. When he leaves the TV studio, he is ready to bear consequences of his past action. He is surprised when nobody reacts - he finds out the show was only recorded, and another pre-recorded instalment was broadcast on that night. Seemingly favourable incidents begin to push the hero on a downward spiral towards deadly emptiness and cynicism. In the end, the show never goes on air (the show's editor is divorcing its presenter). Coming Clean is discontinued. Jacek is by then very well settled in TV milieu thanks to his lawsuits over the failure to broadcast "his" instalment and produces a new talk show called Wet Sponge that is both more cynical and rougher. At the party celebrating the new show's success he is telling his own story pretending it to be a plot of his new novel, but he comes against a harsh moral judgment: a story whose hero doesn't want to be cleansed does not deserve to be written. In today's world of slumping media any scandal quickly becomes a tool for advertisement market and its advertisement values completely overshadow any moral dimension. Jacek's crime goes unpunished.
In the Polish theatre life, Mr Zelenka begins to occupy a position very similar to that reserved to Irish playwrights just a couple of seasons ago. (...) Peter Zelenka's text brings a new quality to Teatr Stary: a specific kind of humour, an amplified feeling of absurd, an entertaining distance to the heroes. Zelenka's text is simple, intellectually honest, warm and gracious.
Justyna Nowicka, "Zbrodnia bez kary w telewizyjnym talk-show", Rzeczpospolita, Warsaw 30-10-2007