The Kindly Ones

Slovak National Theatre – Drama, Bratislava, 2014
Author: Jonathan Littell
Directed by Michal Vajdička

about the production

The novel The Kindly Ones by the American Jonathan Littell written in French – a fictional memoir of an educated and refined SS officer – is not just a riveting book but also a cultural event of the literary Europe within the past twenty years. Its author has asked himself, after the years of working for various humanitarian organizations, how he would act, with his education and attitudes, in Germany during the economic depression. He wrote a grand dark fresco about a lawyer who, due to little compromises with his conscience, becomes a small but important wheel in the gear of mass killing. The story of a convinced Nazi, Maximilian Aue, guides us through the various “backgrounds” of the 2nd world war. The main hero Aue has a rather cynical attitude toward the questions of conscience. With his own constructed argumentation, he explains the committed crimes “logically”. Supposedly: How and why is a small wheel working in the monstrous machinery of death. How is the administrative force participating in the liquidation of the Jewish citizens and undesirable persons? He experiences the holocaust from its beginnings till the gas chambers.

The Slovak dramatists have found a suitable tempo for the telling of this story and for creating its theatre atmosphere, taking into account the tediousness of the literary style of the original text. There is a feeling of detachment, as well as of disgust and repulsion. Under a seemingly unexcited surface, we can feel a whirlwind of stinking Freudian mud. The facts and a documentary style take turns with an almost mystical mist of the human impulse to commit atrocities. The production of subtle halftones paradoxically speaks about the cruellest raging in the world history. Top acting performances and properly leading directing hand have created the production with a catharsis of nearly antic dimension. A depiction of the historical bloody bath is transformed into a polemic about good and evil in the human being. There is a musical slinkiness of the atmosphere as well as of the feeling. The strong scenic pictures and the characters which are not simplified, a moral resolve – all of that awaits the sensitive spectator. The final stage form has an overall civil character. Reality and dreams, stern facts, strict comments, poetry combined with the atrocities of human decisions, acts and behaviours… Twists and turns of the story, the absence of the unambiguous moral lesson. Crimes and punishments in the optics of an unusually complicated story of an intellectual. The story of an ordinary man who happened to be in the tow of the times? Or, a precise record of a sexually different and morally insane man who acts “only” with the awareness of the historical inevitability? Or, a suggestive depiction of the historical events? In any case, the questions which the contemporary theatre has a right, or even a duty, to ask!
Svetozár Sprušanský

“Jonathan Littell has not written the intimate diary of a mass murderer from the 2nd world war, which won the Goncourt Award, according to the history lessons. As a worker for humanitarian organizations, he had many opportunities to see what is going on these days in Chechnya, Afghanistan or Kongo. (…) His novel doesn´t ask the question how the nation of Goethe could go wild, or under what conditions anyone of us would start to kill in the name of a wrong goal. (…) Such a cruel work requires consideration of every gesture, but the director fortunately could rely on a top ensemble.”
Zuzana Uličianska,

“But the story itself is a cruel punch line – Aue ends it with the words that what he is able to do, also we are able to do. (…) The production is first of all a theatre concert, in which the authors as well as the actors have adopted a decisive stance to the subject already from the beginning. Their consistently professional attitude has created a warning. Not just by that which the author of the original employed to help bring about a cathartic resolution: the single characters one by one – as a punishment for their acts – go mad.”
Dagmar Inštitorisová,



directed by: Michal Vajdička
translation: Michala Marková
dramatization and dramaturgy: Daniel Majling
set design: Pavol Andraško
costumes:  Katarína Hollá
music:  Marián Čekovský
pianists:Tobias Lacho, Aleš junek, Ryan Bradshaw
characters and cast: Maximilián Aue: Ľuboš Kostelný, Thomas Hauser: Alexander Bárta, Doctor Hohenegg / Üxküll: Marián Geišberg, Interrogator, Turk: Milan Ondrík, Officer Korherr: Richard Stanke, Captain Moreau: jozef Vajda, Partenau: Martin Nahálka, Helena: Táňa Pauhofová, Mrs. Weseloh, Mother: Emília Vášáryová, Waitress: Monika Potokárová, Monika Horváthová, Waiter: Tomáš Stopa, Choir: Tomáš Grega, Barbora Palčíková


Michal Vajdička (1976) after finishing studies of theatre direction at the VŠMU in Bratislava, he was giving guest performances in several theatres both in Czech and Slovak Republic; today he is the art director of Theatre Dejvice in Prague. He evoked the best response of the audience as well as of the critique with his productions of Irish dramatists. First of all, he focused on family relationships: McDonaghs plays The Lonesome West (2004, VŠMU – the awards at the international festivals of theatre schools) and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (2005, State Theatre Košice – the nomination for the award DOSKY 2005 for best direction); later he began to investigate the specifics of a village community: Marina Carr – Portia Coughlan (2006, Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra – 3 nominations for DOSKY 2007), and Martin McDonagh – The Cripple of Inishmaan (2007, Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava). In 2008, at Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, he did the exceptionally successful production Everything for the Nation based on the text by Božena Slančíková Timrava. The production was nominated for the award DOSKY 2008 in three categories, won the Literary Fund 2008 award for direction, and the prestigious Czech Alfréd Radok Award 2008 for the greatest experience of foreign theatre. Recently, a huge spectator success and several awards has won his production of A. P. Chekhov’s The Seagull (2013, Dejvice Theatre, Prague). The production of The Kindly Ones by Michal Vajdička was commissioned by the Slovak National Theatre, thus following the dramatic line of Endlösung monitoring the theme of fascism and the holocaust of the European Jews during the Second World War. The production confirmed interesting dramatic direction of the 2013/2014 season at the Slovak National Theatre and got several nominations for the awards Dosky 2014.

Materials available

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Script of the production: EN

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