Eszter Solymosi of Tiszaeszlár

Eszter Solymosi of Tiszaeszlár
Opened: 17 September 2010 Staatstheater Hannover, Germany
Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins

On a hot summer day in 1882, the corpse of a young maid was found on the bank of the Tisza River. The body was dressed in the clothes of Esther Solymosi. Doctors agreed that the young girl could be around 14. Her neck was uninjured. The last time people saw Esther was when her master’s wife sent her to buy black paint. This happened on a Saturday, before Passover. The Jews of Tiszaeszlár were gathering in the synagogue.

After the whole village had searched for the girl to no avail, a rumour began to spread that she must have been killed by the Jews. Her neck was cut, and her blood was mixed with the matzo made for rituals. During the two-year-long trial, fifteen people were arrested; and although authorities found no real evidence, the sensational trial had a profound impact. Even the son of the parish clerk testified against his own father. Finally, the accused were acquitted, but the Tiszaeszlár Case became the symbol of a meaningless, but everyday crusade of hatred. The performance is based on the novel by Gyula Krúdy that recounts the story of the blood libel.


From the reviews

"Foggy, rainy dusk. The muddy soil of the claustrophobically narrow village, conjured on the stage of the Cumberlandische Bühne by Márton Ágh, is made even wetter by the constantly running rain machine. This is a realistic set in all its details: a cat sits in the window of a low peasant house, a cock crows on top of the pig stall. (...) In the pale moonlight, black figures of women flit across the stage. There are Jews with long beards in black hats, immersed in their prayers, padding about with bound legs. It is this environment that the demonic spirit of Esther haunts. She is visible to only one person: Moritz, the rebellious Jew, who betrayed his religion and his own father. Mundruczó has the two youngsters sing the song Happy Together, which we witness on hanged sheets, where the events inside the house are projected. (…) This is no place for traditional theatre. Even the dialogue is made difficult to comprehend, since those onstage constantly whisper or mumble. We only hear the actors’ cue lines, which makes these last words of dialogue even heavier." (Evelyn Beyer -


"The spirit of Esther Solymosi haunts the entire performance. She is the only one who wears white, maybe because in this story only Death is innocent." (Lorenz Varga -


"In the adaptation of Gyula Krúdy’s historic documentary novel, Kornél Mundruczó’s production examines the mechanism, the process whereby belief almost becomes reality. Sadism, conflict, aggression, and flagellation appear in a series of film-like pictures in atmospheric lighting." (Virág Vida -


"In and out, theatre and film – this is Mundruczó’s usual dichotomy. And as usual, it is realized perfectly. The actors’ work is accurate, both in terms of expression and space, as they humbly create their characters. The Jews paddle with both their hands and legs bound, but when they celebrate Passover – the night which is different from others nights for some reason – it is not fear, but the certainty of faith that shines from them. Esther Solymosi – as a real spirit – plays in the space both horizontally and vertically. She is at home in the attic window, where she blows soap-bubbles, or on the roof, where she watches events unfolding with great interest. Sometimes she steps into the story – alive or dead. Sometimes she steps out, or over, into the "other side", as when she strips the clothes of the Jewish woman and puts them on herself." (Judit Csáki - Magyar Narancs)


"A performance that mixes real and symbolic elements, transforming them into surreal visions, a priori has its own special atmosphere. But Kornél Mundruczó – mostly with lighting of unearthly beauty (which sometimes intensifies the reality of the set, sometimes elevates the space into surreal domains, and turns even dazzling light and total darkness into visual effects), thrifty use of acoustic and musical elements, and colourful tones of acting – creates an atmosphere rarely experienced in theatre. The deliberate use of reticence, the wilful avoidance of direct address to the audience (often abandoning any expectations of audience reception), and the slow pace drag us into the performance. We feel in our pores the darkness and the glimmering globe, the celestial blessing that never seems to cease. As I stepped out of the doors of the Trafó, the venue hosting the performance, I simply could not believe that it was not raining outside." (Balázs Urbán - Ellenfény)


"In its entirety, the performance showcases an unbelievable unity. A performance that ends with an impertinent monologue. We learn the verdict of the Tiszaeszlár Blood Libel Trial, that the Jews are acquitted, but this fact does not leave us with any closure. This is not an episode of a moving American TV film series with the title True Stories. (If this is a film, then the whole performance is rather a film homage to The Round-Up and Satan’s Tango.) Yet, it provides a new viewpoint: this is the Universe, and how, how great it is that here on Earth we have intelligent life! Say what?" (István Ugrai -

Festival invitations

-Trafó House of Contemporary Arts 2011. Budapest, Hungary

Eszter Solymosi - Johanna BantzerMaria Hurai, teacher - Carolin EichhorstMrs. Solymosi, mother of Eszter - Susana Fernandes GenebraSalamon Schwarz, cantor and shakter - Florian HertweckJoseph Scharf, verger - Janko KahleRaftsman, a shakter - Sebastian KaufmaneLeni Müller, stepmother of Maurice - Hanna ScheibePéczely, court clerk - Andreas SchlagerGéza Ónody, land steward - Aljoscha StadelmannMaurice Scharf - Martin Vischer