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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » January 31, 2013
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Guilt and Punishment
January 31, 2013   
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New theater productions worth seeing this month include Judgment Day at the Studio Theater in Warsaw. Written by Austrian playwright Odon von Horvath and directed by Agnieszka Glińska, the play premiered Dec. 31.

Judgment Day is a metaphysical detective story that explores the problem of guilt and punishment, taking a closer look at human conduct within a close-knit community. The plot is set in a small town where everybody knows everybody else. The local train station is run by Thomas Hudetz, a highly reliable and diligent man. One day, a train crash occurs. Everybody saw when and how it happened, but the locals refuse to believe that station master Hudetz, who is held in high esteem by the community, is to blame for the accident.

According to Łukasz Simlat, who plays Hudetz, the play touches upon guilt and punishment in a way that resonates with most people. Still, no answers are given at the end of the play, which draws a lot of its strength from the ambiguous ending, with many things are left unsaid.

“All my plays are tragedies whose eeriness makes them comical,” Horvath once said about his work. The playwright liked to tackle social and political issues, targeting small-town attitudes and, in his later years, fascism and the way people behave in modern society.

Glińska, the director, says the play has dated little since it was first published in 1936. “Horvath wrote his story three years before World War II began, setting it in a small, provincial town, but the questions he asked pertain to generation after generation,” Glińska adds. “They are all vital questions about guilt, punishment and taking responsibility for what we do.”

The cast are accomplished Polish actors, including Dorota Landowska, Agnieszka Pawełkiewicz and Krzysztof Stroiński.

Upcoming performances:
Feb. 22, 7 p.m., Feb. 23, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.,
Feb. 24, 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Studio Theater; Palace of Culture and Science
1 Defilad Sq., tel. 22 620-21-02, www.teatrstudio.pl
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