The Regional Medical Draft Board has strict guidelines for the classification of recruits and their suitability for deployment. Height, weight, chest, toes, waist, diseases, abnormalities, birth defects and a myriad other measures combine to label a would-be soldier A, B, C, D, E or even further down the scale. As the conditions are read out four men respond to the criteria. In Cezary Goes to War it’s a critical opening, for each of them is Cezary.
An idiosyncratic piece bursting with originality and verve
The work is presented by Komuna//Warszawa in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute in London and Adam Mickiewicz Institute to celebrate 100 years of Poland regaining independence. It ridicules the whole process and subsequent training the men undertake for a war that might never happen. They certainly look like potential recruits and their physicality is evidenced in the gymnastic dance scenes they perform. Their fitness is what the army demands. An appeal for reclassification based on other skills and personal qualities is of no interest.
The men go through overtly masculine military rituals and sing patriotic, nationalist songs with perfect solemnity, dignity and passion. Director Cezary Tomaszewski subverts this devotion to duty with dance sequences that contain elements of camp and underlying humour that surfaces from time to time in laughter-inducing motifs. Throughout, the energetic pianist, and only female, accompanies with music drawn from well-known classical composers, amongst others, and the men demonstrate their fine voices in song. An opening solo rendition of Handel’s Ombra mai fu is beautifully performed.
The quality of each artistic form undertaken by the troupe gives this work a sustained level of excellence that successfully blends elements of surrealism and black comedy. Their talents as actors enable them to sensitively convey the vulnerability and fear of young men in a challenging environment where they are told what to do and how to appear.
Cezary Goes to War is an idiosyncratic piece bursting with originality and verve. It turns upside down the expectations of how people in the military might traditionally perform and is as far removed from a tattoo as could be imagined.