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Katona József Theatre, Budapest
Written by György Bessenyei
directed by Péter Gothár
play time: 1 hour 30 minutes (without intermission)
GYÖRGY BESSENYEI: THE PHILOSOPHER
Szidalisz, the noble young lady is quarrelling with her maid. Lucinda doesn’t understand why her mistress is not satisfied although she is pretty, clever and rich. Szidalisz’ friend, Berenisz arrives and sets out that she is in love with Ticius, Szidalisz’ brother. It’s only a platonic love, which for Lucinda doesn’t make any sense. What is love good for if one can only sigh from it?
Párménio, the young nobleman criticizes people’s boring shallowness. Men and women are only interested in the clothes they wear. He commands his servant, Lidás no to let anyone in, especially not women. His sister, Angyélika is just arriving in pompous clothes. Párménio can’t understand why his sister wants to be fancied by everyone, and Angyélika can’t understand why her brother doesn’t socialize with people. Lidás is amazed by Angyélika but as a servant he doesn’t dare to woo her. Párménio tells that he would only accept a woman, if she had the same heart as his sister’s but less feeling for externals. Lilisz, an other nobleman arrives, he is looking for Angyélika but she has left already. Lilisz admits that he is in love, Párménio is mocking at his clothes and his passion.
Eresztra, Szidalisz’ mother doesn’t understand why her daughter couldn’t choose from her suitors. She warns her that fate punishes the one who puts herself too high. Szidalisz pities that her mother is in sorrow, she knows that it’s her obligation to marry, but all of her suitors admire either her beauty or richness, not her inner virtues. Eresztra allows her to act as she wishes.
Ticius is just swearing eternal fidelity to Berenisz, when they meet the other flirting couple, Lilisz and Angyélika. Pontyi, Ticius’ uncle arrives and start to inform the youngsters about the Turkish army with his silly gossips. Ticius tries to correct his mistakes for a while then they just disappear.
Párménio is philosophizing about the greatness of the Creator, but Pontyi disturbs him. He tries to talk to him about the Turkish too, but Párménio leaves the blabber nobleman alone.
Szidalisz is complaining to Angyélika because she can’t love anyone who admires her. Angyélika suggests her to fall in love with a philosopher. The philosopher is always honest about his feelings; loves the truth; takes every person, rich and poor as equal; tells he is ignorant, although he is the cleverest; he is often sad and suffers a lot, but never cries or complains. Szidalisz asks Angyélika to introduce her to a man like this, Angyélika suggests her brother. Berenisz arrives with Ticius and Lilisz. Angyélika makes Szidalisz to read out one of Lilisz’ letters to demonstrate that he is her prisoner. Lilisz is ashamed because of his feelings, but at the end of the letter it turns out, it was written by Angyélika to Lilisz. Lilisz is very moved and falls on his knees before Angyélika.
Párménio talks to Ticius about the history of Egypt but Pontyi always interrupts him. He continues to philosophize about history as Angyélika arrives. Angyélika describes the virtues of Szidalisz to Párménio, but he doesn’t believe it.
Eresztra, Ticius and Szidalisz are discussing why Szidalisz doesn’t choose from her suitors. Ticius doesn’t understand how can it be that his sister doesn’t fancy anyone, and Szidalisz can’t understand how can be her brother so blindfolded by love. Eresztra repeats that her daughter has the right to choose but starts to cry as well.
Párménio meditates about philosophers and heroes, and acknowledges: the more he reads the less he knows. Szidalisz arrives, they start to be attracted to each other, but both of them are sure that the other sex is only interested in beauty and wealth, so solitude is better. Angyélika interrupts the scene and both of them go away confused.
Lidás is disappointed because Lucinda seems to care about other men too, so he decides to become a philosopher. When Lucinda realizes that Lidás doesn’t deal with her any more only reads a book, she starts to cry. Lidás is afraid that she wants to leave him so they make it up.
Ticius and Berenisz swear eternal fidelity to each other again. Pontyi and Angyélika arrive, Angyélika asks Pontyi to read out a letter he got, because she believes it’s a love letter. Ponyti does it, but the others don’t even understand a word, it is written by his coachman in a dialect.
The others appear too, they came for a dinner at Ereszta’s. During the dinner Ponyti gets a new letter from his lawyer, he reads it out too but the others don’t understand it again, because it’s full with Latin words. Ponyti doesn’t like the new expensive foods what they have on the table, he is nostalgic about the old times. Párménio and Szidalisz are philosophizing, but in fact they court each other. Pontyi starts to smoke a pipe and talk about politics, but says nonsense things again.
Párménio confesses to Angyélika that he is attracted to Szidalisz, but doesn’t know if it’s reciprocal. Eresztra is happy because her daughter has chosen someone finally and she brings Szidalisz to Párménio. Szidalisz is deeply in love, Lucinda diagnoses that noble souls in love are even ready to die. Eresztra meditates on love then gives her blessing to the couple. Everyone appears on stage and cries of happiness.
In the epilogue Párménio talks about the greed of people and the interest which rules the world.