The Ice

The Ice
Opened: 21st September 2006 Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest
Running Time: 3 hrs 20 mins with one interval

Kornél Mundruczó is adapting and staging Vladimir Sorokin’s novel called The Ice. Sorokin is one of the most controversial and exciting figures of contemporary Russian literary scene, whose works have been translated into a dozen languages and who is considered to be enfant terrible of the Russian public life and contemporary culture. Sorokin does not believe in the moral power of literature; his view is simply aesthetic and its boundaries are set by his demonic fantasy and perceptiveness. His dramas and novels provoke and inspire their environment; therefore their theatrical adaptation is an important challenge.


It is Christmas. Sparklers. Carols. Remnants of a cake on a table; life could not be more mundane. Until the moment when blond, blue-eyed people turn up and hammer on someone’s chest with ice-picks. The question: will the heart speak? Will it speak, roused from its ancient slumber by the icy touch, or will it silently die of the hammer-blows?

The blue-eyed brothers, members of the brotherhood of the heart, visit three people. Lapin, a university student saddled with internet-addicted friends, ignorant parents and unfulfilled desires. Nikolajeva, a prostitute, who will do anything for money: anyone can take out their rage on her, they can beat her, humiliate her as they please. And Borenboim who believed that life held no more surprises and spent his days with answers at the ready, cash at hand, his self-confidence masquerading as experience within the narrow confines determined by his pragmatism.

Their hearts will come alive under the icy hammer-blows. The rebirth of the chosen ones is excruciatingly painful. And yet it is an unsurpassable miracle. The heart begins to talk. It speaks an unknown tongue, and the now awoken people withdraw from the familiar world wordlessly, absorbed in each other’s embrace.

Their dormant-hearted partners, parents, friends and foes are oblivious and understand none of this chosen-ness. For them the world is what it always has been: same as yesterday, and the day before. But the old rules no longer apply to those newly awoken. As their ignorant and cruel environment cannot explain what is happening to them, the awoken hearts are left alone, and weep in their boundless joy and despair.

The tale unfolds from the first ice-picked people through the history of the Soviet Union to our time.

From the reviews

"The childishly-played theatrical work is radically sharp, acting like a call to revolution for those at the bottom layer of the new class hierarchy in Central European’s culture of excess. With this bewitching vision, studded with pop songs, Mundruczó (first and foremost a film director) gets even with the new brand of brutally hedonist, freedom-robbing society." (Der Standard - Austria)


"Given Mundruczó’s aims, following his predecessor is a political stance. Whereas Sorokin examined Russia’s totalitarian motives, here The Ice places Hungary under the microscope. (…) Trash theatre and high culture. Sex, violence and rock’n’roll. Mundruczó meticulously adapts Sorokin’s fantasy." (Kurier - Austria)


"The actors transform so effectively, as if they had a personal mission with the matter at hand." (Ágnes Bárdos-Deák -


"No candid camera documentary could depict this miserable life with more authenticity or realism as the Krétakör actors. The season has begun." (Judit Csáki - Magyar Narancs)

"The ex-actor, now film-director, Kornél Mundruczó seems to be a stage magician. Not a master. An apprentice rather. He has a strong skill to free the djinnie in the theatre. He makes the fantasy of actors and audience fly." (Péter Molnár Gál -

"It’s surreal, I won’t deny it. And vulgar. But is that not the world we live in? What’s pure, beautiful and original is no good. We tear at it with both hands, or we throw it away. But we need obscenity, violence, rudeness, impatience and fake. “This is it – you asked for it” – seems to be Sorokin’s and Mundruczó’s message. But it could be different. And those who can talk with their hearts are looking out for their brothers and sisters."  (Tamás Velkei -

Festival invitations

-Festspillene i Bergen 2008. Bergen, Norway
-KONTAKT International Theatre Festival 2009. Torun, Poland
-MESS International Theatre Festival 2009. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
-Wiener Festwochen 2010. Vienna, Austria
-Texture Film and Theatre Festival 2010. Perm, Russia
-19th International Festival Theatre 2011. Pilsen, Czech Republic


-Best young creator: Kornél Mundruczó – KONTAKT International Theatre Festival 2009. Torun, Poland

-Silver Laurel Wreath Award for Best Performance in the Mittel Europa category – MESS International Theatre Festival 2009. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

-The Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble – MESS International Theatre Festival 2009. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

-The Avaz Dragon Award – MESS International Theatre Festival 2009. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

-Texture Name Prize - Texture Film and Theatre Festival 2010. Perm, Russia

Lapin - Zsolt NagyNyikolaieva - Borbála Péterfy / Diána Magdolna KissBorenboim - Sándor TerhesVor - Tilo Werner / János SzemenyeiRom / Andrei - József Gyabronka / Krisztián KovácsIp / Vika - Orsi TóthHaro / Natasa / Ar / Ilona - Lilla Sárosdi / Piroska MészárosFather / Mosquito - Zoltán MucsiMother / Ekhos - Eszter Csákányi / Lili MonoriKjela / Pasha - László KatonaGena - Gergely BánkiDriver - Péter SchererParvaz / Savva - Roland Rába
Set, Costume
Márton Ágh
Mátyás Erdély
Written by
Vladimir Sorokin
Hungarian translation
László Bratka
Viktória Petrányi
Assistant director
Zsófia Tüű
Kornél Mundruczó

Krétakör Theatre, National Theatre of Hungary, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts