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TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale

TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale

“If you have ever looked at someone from a very different background and wondered if maybe they had it so much better (or worse) than you did, this play is for you.” – DISCOVER HOLLYWOOD / Rachel Flanning 

TIM, Entertainment

TOYS INVITE 11-11 copyPlaywright: Saviana Stanescu

Director: Gabor Tompa

Assistant Director:  Kate Jopson

Costume Designer: Elisa Benzoni

Sound Designer: Kate Jopson

Scenic & Lighting Designer: Gabor Tompa

Technical Consultant: JR Bruce

Public Relations: Nora Feldman 

Graphic Designer: Agnes Laszlo 

Clara/Fatma: Julia Ubrankovics

Shari/Madonna: Tunde Skovran

Produced by J.U.S.T. Toys Productions 

Run time: 55 mins / No Intermission      


“The immigrant tries to take a new identity and get rid of the old one. That doesn’t really work. In order to be able to go further, I think we have to face and confront our past. Sometimes, the more we try to get rid of it or deny it, the more it starts to haunt us. Follow us. We have to make peace with the former identity, our roots, and our traditions.“- Gabor Tompa /

Shari was born into a war-torn country, alone and fending for herself; Clara grew up in New York with seemingly the best of everything. These two very different characters, who led very different lives, undertake a surreal journey to meet in an explosive encounter and discover a shared secret from their past in TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale. In this dramedy written by award-winning playwright Saviana Stanescu, you’ll piece together a life that was torn apart by war as the characters — our alternate identities — find themselves reunited after 30 years. With suspense and humor, the artists bring the eclectic imagery of the Los Angles Art Scene to Europe.

Through the exploration of identity TOYS ultimately asks what it means to belong. 

TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale


Director’s Note:

Being a foreigner, an immigrant or a refugee is not an uncommon, still not a too easy situation, even in a welcoming country or environment. Finding a new identity without giving up your own spiritual values is a delicate balance, which is particularly tough to maintain when you deliberately choose the way of forgetting.But the more you try to get rid of your own past, your own roots and traditions, the more the memories of thepast – good or bad, dear or embarrassing – will haunt you. 

Saviana Stanescu deals with that feeling in her play TOYS, putting the two sister characters to face each other in a mirror, which makes them almost like the negatives of each other, or even the two sides of the same, unique character. 

In our approach Madonna/Shari is a kind of alter-ego of Clara/Fatma, a young woman immigrated to America from a South-Eastern-European country, where religious extremism endangers the rights and life of women. Clara does all her best to escape the torturing memories. But the harder she denies her true identity and real story, the more the image of the past returns taking on the shape of a nightmare which becomes her obsession. She has to make that journey all the way back to herself to face her past and reconcile it with her present in order to
be able to turn her look into the future. 

TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale


“Toys: A Dark Fairytale is anything but your average run of the mill fairytale. Instead, it is a dark story of two young women who grew up in two completely different worlds but come to find that they actually share a secret from their past. The play, written by Samuel French Award-winning playwright Saviana Stanescu, directed by internationally renowned director Gabor Tompa and starring Julia Ubrankovics and Tunde Skovran, brings the pizzazz of European theater to Los Angeles.” – Discover Hollywood / Rachel Flanning

“Performances are compelling, if inscrutable by design. They also evolve over time. Ubrankovics’s lovely wide-eyed turn as the pampered American girl gradually turns into something more taut and urgent, while Skovran’s fierce Shari starts out angry but then reveals unexpected vulnerabilities and kindnesses. Overall TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale is a fascinatingly complex and not entirely comprehensible drama that actually leaves some vivid impressions for a long time after.” – Stage Raw / Paul Birchall

“As a stand-alone piece, although slightly derivative in a few of its disturbing visual aspects, the composition of this play is beautifully, dramatically off-center, leaving open so much cerebral and physical interpretation and dialog on the subjects carefully phrased inside. Tompa’s non-linear direction brokers far more psychologically-heightened and fascinatingly elliptic relationships for the audience to maneuver and for the characters themselves to inhabit. TOYS: A Dark Fairy Tale is bar none, in all its outward simplicity experientially exciting and exceptionally manifested by both director and cast.” -Bitter Lemons / Tracey Paleo

“When the world is entrenched in a state of political frenzy, it’s inevitable that theater will emphatically take to the stage, creating a new forum for debate. The story and performance carry the show. This is a story that needs to be told.” -Culture Spot LA / Natalie Kessel

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