Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres

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23 september 2021

Critique of the play ON THE TRAIL

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Critique of the play ON THE TRAIL

On detectives and clean rivers

author: Divna Stojanov

From the town of Karlovac, which lies on four rivers (Korana, Kupa, Dobra and Mrežnica), came a puppet - crime play On the Trail by Peđa Gvozdić about a missing fish, the protector of the river Mladena Čuvarić.

The author of the play, Petra Cicvarić, won the first prize in the competition for the best drama for children Mali Marulić in 2019 for her text (originally called Fish in Trouble). Witty, clever, instructive, dramaturgically flawlessly well-tailored text is about three detective fish that shed light on the case of the disappearance of an environmentally conscious, we would say activist Mladena, in the river depths. On their way, fish teach children about the importance of clean rivers and preserving the environment. The ecological message is not a finger in the eye, but through an entertaining story, it remains educative for the audience. In the end, when detectives find a lost fish stuck in the trash, in a part of the river where no one goes because of pollution, emerges the point that soon "the place where no one goes soon will become the place where everyone is". In addition to nature, children also learn about different types of fish and their appearance. In the river there are catfish, carp, perch, cleaner fish...

The excellent text in the production of City Theater Zorin Dom performed by the actress Petra Cicvarić, Vanja Gvozdić, Lovorka Trdin, Andro Damiš looks very dark, which is logical because the story takes place at the bottom of the river. The actors animate the fish very carefully and in detail (puppet design and scenography by Mladen Bolfek). In addition to the fact that each fish looks and talks differently, it swims and sits differently, thus revealing something else about the character.

The humor in the play is based on witty lines and, interestingly, it is often directed towards an older audience. Let's say a carp is a singer named Goran Carp and he sings the song I'm just a carp baby alluding to Goran Karan and his song Vagabundo; fish perch is Goran Perch by profession, referring to the Croatian actor Goran Grgić. For the younger ones, there were ingenuities like the Sufistangram and the Fishbook.

Music (Damir Šimunović), jazz, mystical, real detective composition, follows the atmosphere of events on stage. At the very end, all the fish sing a cheerful, easy-to-remember song as they clean their home together, learning how important it is not to pollute our environment.

The performance is the real example of how to talk to children about ecology or some other important topic - unobtrusively, through play, laughter, a story that keeps their attention, that is original, that leads them to a world that is not so familiar to them (in this case river). Another compliment to this play is that the story is placed in a local context. Children from Karlovci, Croatia, recognize that the plot takes place in their city, so the story is automatically more receptive. It is indisputable that the children in Subotica understood the story of the performance, although they may have never seen the rivers of Karlovac, but this shows the thoughtful repertoire policy of the City Theater Zorin Dom and their concern for the children they are making plays for.

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Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres