Riffing theatrically on the imprint left by years of political upheaval in Croatia, Tena Štivicic’s 3 Winters is a robust attempt at tackling the varied pasts of central Europe post-1945, set dutifully against the backdrop of one family’s endless struggle for a lack of contentious conversation at dinnertime.
It might sound like hard work, and it’s true the play never cuts corners in its accounts of three periods in modern Croat history, but along the way, Štivicic crafts something personal and relative out of generations of faceless upheaval. It’s thanks to the Kos family, who acquired a lavish ivy-covered property from the Government after the Second World War. Whose house had it been, and whose would it become when Communism closes?
Darting from 1945 to 1990 and finally to 2011, the play’s crowded web of characters is fronted by a net of modern women, unified in their courage to do something, and do it right. It turns out that to keep history in check, keeping quiet may no longer be possible.
Some of the detailed shards of European history through the generations may take a little swatting up on later, but if you take what you see for face value, you’ll find a recognisable discourse here: as generations of families fight for stability in disruption, fury manifests in a desire to stave off lazy historical judgements that reappear in modern ways and bring politics into the home.
A clever set of vignettes begin Act 2 and remind us Štivicic’s play is about people, and not rules of law. Suitably, each one centres intimately on two characters who grab at the play’s issues and plant them in personal situations that breathe right down your neck. Asides playing in-tune about the bother of repetition politics and its effect in the home, Štivicic’s greatest victory lies in her newer scenes, set in 2011 – when young women fancy other young women and smoke pot guiltlessly whilst ensuring they, and their elders, dodge preconceptions whilst acting against the tyrannies of history. In these women, a dynamic and modern type of role model is made clear.