Cezary Goes to War by Komuna/Warszawa – Army Reserve Centre, Edinburgh
Four men in an Army drill hall, clad in Adidas tracksuit tops and shorts, sing lieder and dance in an athletic, chorus line fashion. A woman accompanies them on the piano. All five claim to be called Cezary, and they have a bone to pick with the Polish military c.1994, which has classified them as ‘Category E: unfit for military service.’
Cezary Goes to War is a strange and unforgettable piece that combines high camp with the songs of Polish composer Stanisław Moniuszko. It is often funny, as the performers cartwheel across the stage while singing or line up for physical inspection in their pants. However, its awkward, endearing surface conceals a piece with strong political purpose. The story is autobiographical, written by classical musician and director Cezary Tomaszewski, who is also one of the performers. The criteria for physical categorisation which flash up on the screen are both absurd and disturbing, with echoes of the Nazis. The underlying assumption is that Cezary was rejected by the army because he is gay. This show is a clever, unclassifiable queer response, identifying and examining discrimination while delivering some very fine songs. The Army hall setting, with uniformed territorial personnel tearing tickets, only adds to the impact.