‘Bordel Ballkan’ shocks but deserves a chance

A review of Jeton Neziraj’s newest play directed by Andras Urban, playing tonight at the National Theatre in Prishtina.

I don’t think Jeton Neziraj ever imagined his new play “Bordel Ballkan” (Balkan Bordello) would creep quietly into the night. It’s a larger than life melodrama of epically shocking proportions.

In a bold move, “Bordel Ballkan” is guaranteed to provoke outrage. His unflinchingly critical exposé of the corrupt, the absurd and the ridiculous is both brave and obscene: no group escapes intact.

There may be rape, violence, nudity and a song that screams and screams ‘fuck you,’ there may be references to dubious activities carried out by the ruling political elite, but there is also raucous singing, hilariously controlled contemporary dancing, cross-dressing and an unfettered joy in telling a difficult tale. This is the Oresteia in Kosovo, sliced with a comical blade. In the midst of the madness there are moments of such tenderness that they turned my stomach – when a soldier relates the execution of a homosexual comrade, it is understated dramatic genius, gently told.

Jeton Neziraj is a great playwright who takes a beautifully perverse joy in the meaty wonders of free speech. This play is going to cause trouble and I hope with all my heart that it is given the chance to, wherever it shows.

Sarah Hehir is a British playwright and poet.


29 April 2017 - 11:46

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