An original production by English-language theatre company MIND RESET, I Didn’t See That Coming, has just played to a full house at the recently opened Katakomba Cellar Theatre. Another show is now lined up for 9 April, with more to follow. We sit down with writer Olja Radlović and director Tina Tomulić, responsible for this entertaining dramedy involving 13 characters played by English-speaking expats from Brazil to Tunisia.

It was Tina Tomulić who founded English-language company MIND RESET three years ago. “I really missed going to the theatre,” says the Croatian TV editor, who had moved from Zagreb to Budapest. “As there didn’t seem to be many English-language productions to watch here, I decided to create a group.”

The new troupe gave two performances of their eponymous debut production, Mind Reset in 2019, and another at Budapest’s Vad Art Fesztivál in January 2020.

Olja Radlović had been one of the first to join MIND RESET as a budding actress. “Tina saw potential in me as a writer,” says the IT consultant from Banja Luka. “So I started to think up a few ideas. Then she said, ‘We need a play with 13 characters!’”

With a baker’s dozen forming the cast, Olja set about scripting a play in which everyday people find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Then came the pandemic.

As cultural activities among expats are constantly in flux by definition, people coming and going according to their circumstances, the enforced stasis saw some members head for home, and others stay put.

We helped each other a great deal in the process,” says Olja. “We learned how to trust and be honest with each other.”

Eventually being able to rehearse together – Tina and Olja reserve special praise for the ever-helpful Jurányi ház, the cradle of independent theatre in Budapest – the crew could see the play take shape.

Performers lent each other costumes and people’s partners were pressed into contributing their professional editing skills to create the artwork and PR material.

Tina and Olja began looking for venues, settling on the historic Fészek in the heart of Budapest’s nightlife quarter, District VII. A date was set. Then it turned out that the theatre’s technician would not be available.

We had been doing stage rehearsals there and we were really used to the space,” bewails Olja.

But, as they say, the show must go on, so the determined duo hit upon the Katakomba Cellar Theatre, which had just opened on Krisztina tér when the pandemic struck. Itself young, alternative and independent, Katakomba proved to be an inspired find, “a blessing in disguise!” as Olja now puts it.

A cellar located on the other side of the Tunnel beneath Castle Hill, Katakomba describes itself as a “small, intimate space where performers and spectators can meet… to allow everyone to return all the richer to the world of everyday life outside”.

The full house of 75 who attended the opening night of I Didn’t See That Coming on 26 March would certainly concur. Involving actors from Croatia, Brazil, Finland, Tunisia, Italy, France, Hungary and the US, as well as Olja herself, this 75-minute dramedy takes place in an unnamed multicultural city.

In it, locals, expats, divorcées and opportunists (“You know, the usual”) interact as they strive for power, recognition, money, love and sex (“The basics, really”).

It doesn’t take itself too seriously,” says Olja. “It won’t reveal life’s big truths. It’s a little ironic parody of society today, Instagram influencers and contemporary phenomena. Things that everyone can relate to. Most of all, people shouldn’t be bored.”

With 26 scenes, lots of laughs and a short video film somewhere in between, boredom is off the menu.  

We might change the video slightly for the show on 9 April,” says Olja, “but otherwise everything went far better than expected on opening night. You’re never sure how it’s going to work out. The audience seemed to pick up on everything, they laughed at the right times and kept silent when it was needed. It was such a good feeling for me to see people enjoy my work”.

Event information

I Didn't See That Coming
Katakomb pinceszínház 
1013 Budapest, Krisztina tér 4
Saturday 9 April, 7pm 
Tickets available here
To join MIND RESETemail