Writer: Rayko Baychev
Director: Milena Aneva
Reviewer: James Napleton
For those who don’t know the hardship of being a Gadulka player in the 21st Century Miro Kokenov is here to educate.
The Burning Gadulka is a witty, charming and emotive performance exploring the view of a musician in a Bulgaria folk orchestra.
It is a lonely life. Kokenov is painfully aware of the attention that guitars garner, and that youngsters are not filled with the enthusiasm he had for learning the tradition Gadulka. He is feeling more and more estranged in a growing world, with his heritage becoming less relevant in an increasingly homogeneous society. A chance encounter with a girl alleviates these feelings, and old stories of the orchestra are an enjoyable way to escape.
The one man show runs for over an hour and it is a truly energetic performance. Kokenov is often frenetically moving around the stage, employing a range of physical theatre, parody and satire in a trademark storytelling style. He has a flavour of Borat, although his show is far less provocative and more human. He is conversational and rambling, digressing constantly weaving through anecdotes. This is often engaging although at times the show feels directionless and unfocused.
The show incorporates a romantic interest that dominates Kokenov’s thoughts. The real love story, however, is between the man and his instrument, although this is often tough love. The show feels like a helpful form of therapy for the Kokenov comedy character as he confesses to the audience, with occasional asides to his Gadulka. Overall Kokenov delivers an entertaining show that exposes the struggle of a man trying to make sense of his musical heritage and ultimately trying to reconcile his past and his future.
Runs until 14 May 2017 | Image: Contributed
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