Gellért Endre: Torchlight, 1952.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical culture

  The two protagonists of Torchlight, the figures of the 1948 revolution, Kossuth and Görgei are one of the last dramatic pairs that can be depicted within a non-fragmented Hungarian historical narrative. All interpretations of the play agree that Illyés doesn’t depict the relationship of the two people with historical accuracy, in that he paints...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

The play was performed virtually without any cuts in both stage performances, (1952, 1968), but the televised version (1968) leaves the epilogue off the end of the play. Illyés Gyula later reworked the first act for the ’68 premier, this was the part criticised by most reviews, (even the positive ones), including the publications loyal...

Direction

Torchlight is a key work in the line of realist productions in the era. Gellért Endre, a significant director of his era, based his theatre on the grounds of psychological realism. Handshakes have a great dramatic relevance in the play, which becomes even more apparent in Gellért’s direction and the televised version. This gesture becomes...

Acting

Pethes’s direction follows the Party line, and it represents the type of straightforward Hungarian man who holds his head high. The two protagonist (in 1952) get characteristically excellent reviews, while Létay Vera critiques Ungvári in the ’68 version, for acting the traitor, pre-emptively, from the beginning. Bessenyei’s stock role is normally the hero in all...

Sight and Sound

Bessenyei Ferenc’s characteristic, deep and ringing voice represents Kossuth’s legendary voice, about which one of the reviewers notes ‘Kossuth enchanted the nation with this versatile musical instrument.’ In Pethes’s version, Józsa’s (Bihari József) appearance, with his braided military jacket, his wavy hair and his pointy, rakish moustache automatically remind the audience of Petőfi, even though...

Impact and Posterity

Although theatres rarely return to the play these days, the question of Kossuth and Görgei remains relevant to playwrights of the era. While in Illyés’s work, Görgei fills the role of the traitor, Németh László’s Az áruló – The Traitor (1954) examines how we can partly acknowledge the accusation and still clear his name, his...