Heritage – Review of the production Legacy
Fruzsina Lilla Németh
11. February 2021.
The Horizon Group’s play is another step towards one less taboo among us and
in the public discourse, and thus one less trauma caused and/or received to be passed on to
the next generation. We are not always responsible for the legacy, but we are responsible
for what we do with the stories we receive, the unresolved and untreated wounds in our
own lives, in our families and in society.
Toxic parents: how to unravel inherited
Emese Balkuné Szűcs psychologist
I recently watched a shocking home theatre production by Horizon Group about the
relationship between the renowned child psychologist-writer Alice Miller and her son
Martin. The hour-long drama, Legacy, evokes chillingly cathartic emotions and gives the
viewer a first-hand insight into the experiences of an abused child…
How can a mother participate in the torture of her own blood? How does she turn a blind
eye to the horrors, while being made a star psychologist for the first revolutionary piece of
child-centred parenting, which also rails against abuse? Domestic violence is happening
before our eyes, and we walk past it with a clear conscience….to break the entrenched
emotional reactions and patterns of behaviour requires the all-seeing light of reason, seeing
the bigger picture and correcting through emotional experience……Therapies to this end are
also very useful, although few are available. That is why we need works that bring the
audience to insight through catharsis… like Legacy, which fulfil this role in serving as a
remedy for the wounds inflicted by the tragedies of the past.
One of us
Legacy by Horizon Group
28. December 2019.
Alice Miller and her son Martin Miller talk to each other, face to face, about what it’s (was) like to be a son and a mother in this family. In reality, this dialogue, which encapsulates several life stories, never took place, and was put together from books, interviews, descriptions and imaginary telephone conversations by dramaturge Eszter Gyulay, who works with the Horizon Group.
Alice Miller was one of the most important therapists of the second half of the 20th century. Her greatest achievement was to introduce into psychology the perspective of the child – the child whose whole life and relationship with his or her own children can be crippled by an abusive and manipulative parent. This idea was considered quite radical at the time of the publication of Miller’s books, such as The Drama of the Gifted Child and The Search for the Real Self. And to a certain extent it still is, since many worldviews that are still valid today expect a child to be primarily grateful to his or her parents, not critical.
This enlightened therapist, who wrote with great ease and sensitivity, and whose books have been translated into more than thirty languages, was unable to see herself clearly – or at all – as a mother. Her children spent years in institutions, and she allowed her husband to regularly beat and abuse her son Martin. She spoke Polish with her husband, which her children could not understand because they were taught only German. This part of Alice Miller’s life story is mainly known from the book written by her son, The Real Drama of a Gifted Child – The Tragedy of Alice Miller. Martin Miller draws on his mother’s traumas during the Second World War to analyse her tragedy – and thus his own real-life story. Alice survived the Holocaust as a Jew in the Warsaw ghetto and married a Gestapo man – an inconceivably divisive situation, like Martin’s, who was the Nazi to his mother and the Jew to his father.
I imagine that this material constantly teased, bothered and disturbed Yvette Feuer while the shock kept her captivated until she finally ‘gave in’ and, with the help of her fellow artists, set about trying to figure out how to make theatre out of it. Which is far from obvious, even if the fictional dialogue is self-evident as a basic setting (and the title of this inspiring volume also refers to theatre). The real drama, the theatre, lies in the emotional ups and downs of the play, which is rendered with stunning precision by the actors, and in the gestures that condense the characteristic manifestations of a mother-son relationship based on a complex system of repressions and outbursts. These have been found and used with great flair by the director, Márk Tárnoki…As the end of a good, hearty cry, the final scene of the performance is soothing: Martin sets off, ready to focus on the world rather than his own parents, to discover it and live his life at his own risk.
The Viscious Cirlce of Violence – Life in the Theatre
26. November 2019.
Legacy, a production by Horizon Group, a theatre company that often focuses on social issues, is a production by Yvette Feuer and Roland Rába and aims to portray the relationship between a mother and her son, Alice and Martin Miller, using a virtual dialogue based on excerpts and transcripts from their books. The production may be looked upon in a number of ways…
Throughout the play, the relationship between mother and son unfolds along the major nodes of the biography, elevated from everyday life. The production is minimalistic, relies almost exclusively on the presence of the actors: there is no set, no props and the only setting for the narrative at the premiere was the large room of the HPS KultSalon, a late bourgeois apartment. We are moving in a groundless world, an intellectual space with almost no handholds, dominated by the tension of opposites…The performance seeks to embrace and make visible the space, fraught with shifts and transitions, in which the roles are permeable. Martin takes on the role of the interrogating, questioning abuser, or the suffering child. Among other things, he reproaches his mother for not defending him against his father and for hiding his Jewishness, while Alice can explain everything. The question is, of course, to whom the explanation is acceptable. Meanwhile, the harsh light in the room does not dim for a moment, the almost disturbing glare confirming that nothing can remain a secret here.
Only One Scratch Left
14. November 2019.
I fully understand the restless curiosity of Yvette Feuer, Roland Rába, Eszter Gyulay and Márk Tárnoki – which shines through their performance – because this horrible true story is really telling a lot, but at the same time I was not sure if it could work as a piece of theatre…I don’t know in what order or how the co-creators joined Yvette Feuer, I just know that she could not relax and be satisfied until she made it into theatre. Eszter Gyulay and Márk Tárnoki worked with the actors in such a way that the performance made it possible for the audience to feel and experience the relevant part of the family history and that of the given period as well. We get a glimpse of the Holocaust syndrome and how Alice Miller, unlike millions of others, managed to survive the Holocaust: she perfectly split off her experience as a victim and identified with the perpetrator – Alice Miller was rescued by a Polish Gestapo officer, whom she married, had children with and lived with until the children’s adulthood. The father systematically and continually tortured the children/Martin while the mother, Alice Miller, acted as an overseer, according to her son. This is difficult to understand in general and in particular, but it does a lot for the inclusiveness of the chilling theatre that we are now watching in amazement.