From French farce to Russian tragedy, and a musical Romeo to a Chekhov mashup, theaters across Budapest will be entertaining audiences this autumn with locally produced performances and adaptations of international productions. Most shows run in Hungarian, but several of the city’s classic and contemporary cultural establishments can draw a global crowd thanks to comedy, drama and musical productions in English, or in Hungarian with surtitles. Venues range from an elegant Habsburg landmark to an abandoned building in District VII. Now, on with the show…
Átrium Film and Theater
In October and November, Buda’s Bauhaus-style Átrium Theater abounds with English-friendly performances, but tickets are selling out fast for the translated acts. Starring many of Hungary’s acclaimed actors, a tongue-twisting comedy, “One, Two, Three” will be amusing audiences on October 27th and November 28th, while French musical “La Cage Aux Folles” takes the spectator to a place where everyone can be what they want to be – this energetic production runs on November 7th and 8th. Meanwhile, on October 30th and November 29th, “The Lonesome West” transports us to a small Irish town, where two brothers battle amid loud sound effects. Surtitles are projected just above the stage, best viewed in seats in the back rows (7-11) or on the circle.
Budapest Operetta and Musical Theater
Budapest’s Nagymező Street, lined with cultural landmarks, is the heart of the city’s theater district. Towering above this iconic thoroughfare, Operetta Theater stages several stage plays during the year, many attracting a foreign audience. Here, all musicals are provided with English-language surtitles, while operetta performances play with German translation. Though tickets are going fast for upcoming productions, passes are still available for many of the theater’s autumn extravaganzas. These include several performances of Romeo and Juliet, a dramatic musical conceived for the stage by popular French composer Gérard Presgurvic – the spectacle plays on November 25th and 26th.
Katona József Theater
Featuring a talented cast and internationally acclaimed directors, downtown’s Katona József Theater – a prominent part of Budapest’s cultural scene – presents an exciting repertoire in November for English-speaking audiences, with surtitles displayed during performances. On November 9th, it stages Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Godunov, portraying the turbulent events in Russian history when newly elected Tsar Boris Godunov ascended to the throne in the late 16th century. On November 10th, Marriage by Nikolai Gogol is enacted onstage, a two-act piece about twisted Russian matchmaking, while on November 11th and 12th, the theater presents Nora – Christmas with The Helmers (A Doll’s House), a classic statement about modern divorce by 19th-century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
At the edge of Budapest’s District VII, a derelict building is home to RS9 Theater (Budapest 1075, Rumbach Sebestyény utca 9). Welcoming an ever-expanding circle of talented performers from Hungary and beyond, RS9 stages soul-stirring stories, including theater shows, dance performances, literary recitals, and contemporary music events. On October 6th, an English-speaking audience can embark on a journey with Jay Miller, a professional mime artist and storyteller, whose shows oftentimes involve the audience. During the English-language performance of Stories from around the World, Budapest-based raconteur Maja Bumberák joins Miller onstage with music and folk songs, evoking the child in spectators’ hearts.
Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
Inspiring scenes unfold at Trafó, an unconventional theater and modern art space that enables independent, well-established, and up-and-coming troupes to shine in the footlights. Here, some of the Hungarian-language stage plays are presented with English surtitles. While tickets to occasional English shows sell out fast, passes are still available for a couple of performances, including the Imitation of Life on November 29th, a provocative and poetic play by Hungarian film and theater director Kornél Mundruczó which examines human fate; re-narrating classical playwrights in unorthodox ways, experimental Hungarian ensemble dollardaddy’s presents a Chekov mix on the last day of November.