Broken souls, restless worriers: Join the 'club of the lonely'
Özgün Özçer ISTANBUL
Yalnızlar Kulübü’ is being staged at Emek Sahnesi on the Anatolian side every Friday until the end of May.Theater has some deceitful manners, as it can somehow find a way of fooling you regardless of how much you have been expecting the trick beforehand. You enter the hall, preparing for a cushy little number in the comfort of your seat; but then the curtains rise, and all of a sudden, you find yourself as part of the game.
Written and directed by young playwriter Sami Berat Marçalı, “Yalnızlar Kulübü” (The Club of Lonely People) does not pretend to weave a extragavant plot, nor does it seek to depict mighty heroes or antiheroes. Instead, the play subtly addresses the audience’s empathy, carrying them away into an exercise of introspection together with all six characters and leaving spectators furiously scanning their brain for memories of yesteryear and re-experiencing inner feelings while laughing, wondering or crying.
And it does not waste its time intensely immersing the public in the action. We go straight to the point from the beginning as Demet (Hasibe Eren) jumps on the stage, presents herself, explains that she has concocted a new method of finding inner happiness – something she has solemnly named “finding the rhythm of your life” – and thanks the audience for attending her lessons.
“This is why you are here, right?” Demet inquires, looking into the spectators’ eyes. “Sure,” a voice furtively mumbles, before the five course attendees are introduced.
All five have personalities as different as the seasons – enough to present a variety in which everyone can recognize themselves or someone close to them. But all have share a constant worry about the insignificance of their existence, drowned in the daily routine and that feeling of loneliness that penetrates deep into the marrow despite being permanently surrounded by the crowd.
Just like everybody, they exaggerate their typical, tiny white-collar problems, can’t get over their sorrow, bottle up, explode, get jealous, make their loved ones suffer and then regret everything. All the imperfect little banal things that trigger the sense of empathy in us.
They are people as real as Mehmet (Bedir Bedir), the “nice guy” of the group. Behind Mehmet’s kindness though, rests the inability to come to a closure with his father since the most memorable moment they both had.
Or there’s the hilarious Buse (Pınar Çağlar Gençtürk), a timid and asocial manager who is ironically as much determined in committing herself to clinging to the method of letting go as she is dedicated to her job.
Even Demet, whose hyperactive, self-assured demeanor gradually disappears throughout the play until we figure out that she may need to find her “rhythm of life” more than anybody else.
The coquettish participant of the group, Emel (Heves Duygu Tüzün); Nazım (Tolga İskit), hiding his bitterness within a shell of aggressiveness; and the jaundiced and obsessive Kerem (Güçlü Yalçıner) complete the cast.
But while they were looking for a rhythm to life, what the characters of “Yalnızlar Kulübü” may have found are similar souls, each haunted by his or
her own trauma: Affection yearned for, friendship lost, love untold. Those
who still suffer from the lack of paternal love. The one who was unable to overcome the separation from a friend in her childhood. The one who doesn’t have the courage to say “I love you” to the person sitting right next to him...
Welcome to the club. You are not alone.
Better late than never, @Emek Sahnesi
The play was first staged last year and has already collected a bouquet of awards – including the prestigious Sadri Alışık award in the best support actress category for Gençtürk. Better late than never then, you can still catch it during a few performances at Emek Sahnesi every Friday until the end of May.
Emek Sahnesi also deserves a special mention. Far from hype, in Hasanpaşa on Istanbul’s Asian side, it is a perfect venue for a number of elegant plays. Simple, intimate and with a lot of personality, it is the theater equivalent of your little shop in the street compared to the immense supermarket at the mall. Indeed, definitely one of those places that deserve theatergoers’ support.