One of us

Legacy by Horizon Group

Andrea Rádai

28. December 2019.

Alice Miller and her son Martin Miller talk to each other, face to face, about what it's (was) like to be a son and a mother in this family. In reality, this dialogue, which encapsulates several life stories, never took place, and was put together from books, interviews, descriptions and imaginary telephone conversations by dramaturge Eszter Gyulay, who works with the Horizon Group.

Alice Miller was one of the most important therapists of the second half of the 20th century. Her greatest achievement was to introduce into psychology the perspective of the child - the child whose whole life and relationship with his or her own children can be crippled by an abusive and manipulative parent. This idea was considered quite radical at the time of the publication of Miller's books, such as The Drama of the Gifted Child and The Search for the Real Self. And to a certain extent it still is, since many worldviews that are still valid today expect a child to be primarily grateful to his or her parents, not critical.

This enlightened therapist, who wrote with great ease and sensitivity, and whose books have been translated into more than thirty languages, was unable to see herself clearly - or at all - as a mother. Her children spent years in institutions, and she allowed her husband to regularly beat and abuse her son Martin. She spoke Polish with her husband, which her children could not understand because they were taught only German. This part of Alice Miller's life story is mainly known from the book written by her son, The Real Drama of a Gifted Child - The Tragedy of Alice Miller. Martin Miller draws on his mother's traumas during the Second World War to analyse her tragedy - and thus his own real-life story. Alice survived the Holocaust as a Jew in the Warsaw ghetto and married a Gestapo man - an inconceivably divisive situation, like Martin's, who was the Nazi to his mother and the Jew to his father.

I imagine that this material constantly teased, bothered and disturbed Yvette Feuer while the shock kept her captivated until she finally 'gave in' and, with the help of her fellow artists, set about trying to figure out how to make theatre out of it. Which is far from obvious, even if the fictional dialogue is self-evident as a basic setting (and the title of this inspiring volume also refers to theatre). The real drama, the theatre, lies in the emotional ups and downs of the play, which is rendered with stunning precision by the actors, and in the gestures that condense the characteristic manifestations of a mother-son relationship based on a complex system of repressions and outbursts. These have been found and used with great flair by the director, Márk Tárnoki...As the end of a good, hearty cry, the final scene of the performance is soothing: Martin sets off, ready to focus on the world rather than his own parents, to discover it and live his life at his own risk.

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