Opened: 15th October 2013 Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest
Running Time: 1 hrs 55 mins

A world famous psychiatric hospital in Hungary was forced to close down a few months ago. The building has since become dilapidated; the garden is overgrown with weeds and a handful of patients have been left to vegetate alone on the fourth floor. The patients with developed dementia are living in the empire of amnesia... We have to face the following questions: How could society ever profit from one mental patient living a few years longer? What is the point of helping those who suffer when it all leads to death anyway? And besides, suffering is what propels humanity. When we numb ourselves with modern medicine we forget about religion and philosophy for good, albeit humanity found shelter in them before. May we presume the contradiction that death is Man's only hope and main human right?


This production of the Proton Theatre, which shifts from documentary-like realism to a more abstract world of the subconscious, manages to create an operetta-like reality wrapped in a postmodern melodrama that is frighteningly similar to our own daily life, insofar as every society is best characterized by how it treats its elderly and those livings with disabilities.

From the reviews

"Mundruczó’s piece entitled Dementia takes place in a splendidly wild, post-Communist, bleak backstage ruin rendered in hyper-realism, filled with numerous "queer" happenings and visual ideas. One of the most entertaining evenings." ( - Germany)


"Mundruczó Kornél is not a man of theory. His international co-production Dementia is an angry, incisive farce, lavishly executed with the welcome impudence of a tale." (Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany)


"The production entitled Dementia by Kornél Mundruczó is a fantastically insolent and at the same time disconsolate contribution to this year’s Theatre Biennial." (Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany)


"The actors are breathtakingly good, especially Lili Monori, who plays the demented operetta diva, though we could also single out the singing János Szemenyei as a perfect operetta star. All this unfolds on the remarkably imposing set of a hospital in disrepair, eventually sealed off." ( - The Netherlands)


"Budapest’s Proton Theatre’s production Dementia, directed by Kornél Mundruczó, is a shrill, biting reality-satire on the Hungarian condition. It explodes with cynicism." (Neue Züricher Zeitung - Switzerland)


"The play doesn’t even give its characters a chance. It invites in Death and treats it as freedom, since these people are not needed by anyone anywhere." (Györgyi Kalas -


"Entering the psychiatric hospital and walking beside the patients’ hospital beds, we become part of the world of the performance, its physical space, from very first moment. Moreover, we immediately assume a role, as Professor Szatmáry (Roland Rába) welcomes us as visitors on the open day of the Dementia Hospital. We soon receive the first request:  a small financial contribution to save the clinic. Within the first five minutes of the performance, a great burden and social responsibility has been placed on our shoulders. What soon becomes apparent is that if we let this psychiatric hospital, highly respected all over Europe, shut down; the plot’s further developments, the fate of the patients, and collective suicide will all be our responsibility. But do we have any means to forestall this conclusion? The figure of the rich and cunning Bartonek (Ervin Nagy), who emerges from the audience, seems to suggest there is none: only money counts. Thanks to his wealth and connections, Bartonek can buy the hospital from the state and eject the incapacitated patients onto the streets. Nevertheless, we cannot totally blame him, since his point is correct. Out of the budget to hospitalize these vegetative patients, dozens of children from the poorest regions of Hungary could be saved from starvation. And why should we want to prolong the life of the elderly, who are a burden on society, if we all die at some point anyway?
This latest production by Mundruczó is embarrassingly humorous, parodying elements of operetta and comedy in order to address important social matters. What we find here is the surrealist, comic endgame of human life." (Klaudia Antal -

Festival invitations

-SPIELART Festival 2013. Munich, Germany
-Théâtre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine 2013. France
-HELLERAU - European Center for the Arts 2014. Dresden, Germany
-HAU Hebbel am Ufer 2014. Berlin, Germany
-Maria Matos Teatro Municipal 2014. Lisboa, Portugal
-Nová Dráma Festival 2014. Bratislava, Slovakia
-New Plays from Europe 2014. Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
-Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival 2014. Groningen, The Netherlands
-Festival De Keuze 2014. Rotterdamse Schouwburg, The Netherlands
-Baltic House Festival 2014. Saint Petersburg, Russia
-NET Festival 2014. Moscow, Russia
-Automne en Normandie 2014. Evreux, France
-NEXT Festival 2014. Lille, France
-Nervous Systems 2014. Schauspielhaus Zürich, Switzerland
-Lessingtage 2015. Thalia Theater Hamburg, Germany
-dunaPart3 - Platform of Contemporary Hungarian Performing Arts 2015. Budapest, Hungary
-Singapore International Festival of Arts 2015. Singapore
-International Theatre Forum TEART 2016. Minsk, Belarus
-Theatre World Brno 2017. Czech Republic


-Critics’ Award - Baltic House Festival 2014. Saint Petersburg, Russia

Bartonek - Ervin Nagy / János SzemenyeiDr. Szatmáry - Roland RábaDóra, nurse - Kata Wéber / Annamária Láng / Orsi TóthMercédesz Sápi - Lili MonoriHenrik Holényi - Balázs TemesváriLady Oci - Orsi Tóth / Diána Magdolna KissLukács - Gergely BánkiDentist - László Katona / Zsolt Nagy
Set, Costume
Márton Ágh
András Éltető
Written by
Kornél Mundruczó, Kata Wéber
Viktória Petrányi, Gábor Thury
János Szemenyei
Assistant director
Zsófia Csató
Kornél Mundruczó
Dóra Büki
Production assistant
Ágota Kiss
Technical director
András Éltető
Light technician
Zoltán Rigó
Sound technician
Zoltán Belényesi, Alexander Nickol
Video technician
Zoltán Gyorgyovics
Stage master
Péter Csunderlik
Prop master
Gergely Nagy
Melinda Domán

HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, Germany; Théâtre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine, France; HELLERAU - European Center for the Arts, Dresden, Germany; Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest, Hungary; Festival De Keuze/Rotterdamse Schouwburg, The Netherlands; Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival, Groningen, The Netherlands; SPIELART Festival, Munich, Germany; Festival Automne en Normandie, Rouen, France; Maria Matos Teatro Municipal, Lisboa, Portugal; Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels, Belgium


A House on Fire and NXTSTP coproduction with the support of the Cultural Program of the European Union.

Cirko-Gejzír, Kryolan City, Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, PP Business Centre - Budapest, VisionTeam