There are musicals that arise with glee and joy and others that do not. There are musicals that make you think and others that you will quickly forget. Daisy the Musical is not easy. It’s sad but beautiful. It shows the life of one of the most incredible women that used to live in our region. Daisy, Princess of Pless had an overwhelming life definitely worth showing off.
First, about Daisy herself: she was Something. Young British woman, educated and deeply loved by the people, beautiful, aristocratic, married to a rich German prince, living in a beautiful castle, traveling in Paris and South America, but with time becoming more and more unhappy, lonely until she died in relative poverty. We don’t even know where her remains are. One thing is certain, she did not lead an ordinary life. Surrounded by the greatest and wealthiest people of her time, she suffered greatly from her absent husband, divorce, scandals (spoiler alert: her ex-husband’s second wife was the mother of her only grandchild), and the deaths of her children. She gave a lot to ordinary inhabitants of the area, took care of young mothers, provided milk for newborns, defended and promoted the local lacemakers, organized the purification of the river, and worked as a nurse during the First World War.
How to show this complex icon on a musical stage? Well, the gaze of Konrad Imiela, the director, is rather sad and piercing. We can feel the sorrow of the rigidity of polite etiquette and the dilemma of being ensnared by the artificial. Even a trip to Paris, her rich social life, and her maternity are somehow filled with grief. I refuse to think that her life was all about sadness.
The scenography (by Anna Haudek) seduces with its simplicity and symbolism. The moving, floating and light walls symbolically mark the beautiful prison. The costumes (by Agata Bartos) are amazing! Unusual colors, textures, sheen, and ruffles introduce the multifunctionality of an outfit that constantly changes and makes the action more dynamic. I love the approach to clothes as a process and the ability to show a piece of fabric from multiple sides as if you were squeezing strong juices out of it.
Grzegorz Rdzak’s music is varied, from nostalgic melodic pieces to contemporary rhythmic variations. With Jacek Gebura’s choreography, it all makes sense and gives us cohesive integrity.
Daisy (Malgorzata Walenda) is initially overshadowed by the firm husband (the great Michal Kosela) but evolves with each scene and gains more and more attention until taking our breath away in the last song I Am a Woman after listening to which you’ll pick up your jaw and broken pieces of your heart scattered on the floor.
The rest of the set is in its place, the sister (Kinga Zygmunt) is bringing trouble with her undeniable beauty and charm. Mateusz Flis makes a son of great pride, Wojciech Marek Kozak brings frivolity and sparkle when Piotr Mokrzycki surprises with the insolence of stealing his father’s wife. The narrative duo: Rafał Kosowski as Daisy’s butler (mix of full of a great sense of duty with a love for his superiors, whose greatest concern is a timely distribution of meals) and Agnieszka Kwietniowska as Miss Magda (a contemporary commentator of a history), is a wonderful combination: double time and interpretation. Devotion and distance. Two points of view work not only at the level of characters but also at the level of time. The statement: History Will Judge takes on a new meaning.
My favorite moments of the show are the songs: Our Home which opens the show, Souvenir Photography which starts the second act, and the closing song (I Am a Woman). We can see fascinating approaches to War, the image of the First War is subtle, and the second is maso-brutal.
The piece is full of symbols, clues, details in details that refer to the history of Daisy and her loved ones, but the unwitting viewer may miss them, so I recommend delving into the biography of this amazing woman so you are able to appreciate these references.
There are a lot of innuendos and anxiety, even a little too much for my taste. At some point, I was missing a whiff of joy or breath in this continued heaviness and overwhelming inner sadness. Thank goodness Angelika Cegielska and her troupe shouted in an absolutely splendid way all the good things that Daisy has done for people and lightened the atmosphere a bit.
It’s an important show in the context of local pride, remembrance of the meritorious, and preserving the memory of devoted rulers. Daisy is complex but beautiful and you sympathize with her deeply. In the show, her life was like her famous pearl neckless: magnificent but with an inseparable shadow of suffering.
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