Bartók did not use in his own voice for a long time in the play. Instead, Balázs Bodolai spoke, who also played the role of a narrator, sometimes directing, instructing, calling out and guiding the musicians and actors. The same was done by Lóránd Váta, who played state bodies (e.g. the Hungarian Post Office, Hungarian Radio) or nations (e.g. German, French composers) in one person, but also excelled in his portrayal of the egotistical Kosztolányi. He performed with a fantastic linguistic sense and dynamism, as did Zsolt Gedő, who played everything from the American freestyler to the data-communicating spinster or Géza Csáth, having fun, jesting, improvising, inhabiting his roles. If it weren't for the incredible coordination of physicality and wit in the non-verbal characterization of Éva Imre as Bartók, I would make Gedő the most promising darling of the play.
György Fodor: Ifjú barbárok – Ősbemutató a Gyulai Várszínház színpadán [Young Barbarians - Premiere on the stage of Gyula Castle Theatre], gyulaihirlap.ro, 2022.07.11
The actors, without exception, give magnificent performances. The character of Bartók, stumbling in the impermanence of the mundane, finding himself in the transcendent world of music, is played brilliantly by Éva Imre. Kodály is also brilliantly created by Ervin Szűcs. But only praise can be heaped on the work of the other 'transforming' artists: Zsuzsa Tőtszegi, Csilla Albert, Balázs Bodolai, Zsolt Gedő, Loránd Farkas and Lóránd Váta. The viewer of the performance will definitely feel that the creative team has done a great job, all of them putting their full effort into creating the unique world of the Young Barbarians.
There are many other remarkable components to the production, one of which is perhaps of paramount importance in leaving the viewer with a cathartic experience. And that is that the many moments in The Young Barbarians inspire a sense of selfless laughter, the kind of laughter that is perhaps not often elicited from audiences by theatre productions these days. Somehow, it seems a little forgotten that serious, thought-provoking content is not necessarily alienated from the liberating laughter that represents one of the ancient powers of theatre.
Judit Kiss: Bravúros színházi nyelven szól a zenéről az Ifjú barbárok című kolozsvári előadás [The Cluj performance of The Young Barbarians, a play about music using bold theatrical language], Krónika, 12.07.2022
The actors from Cluj are great, bringing with them plenty of vibrant hues from the broader spectrum of Romanian theatre acting. It's hilarious to see Zsolt Gedő, as a head-scarfed, mustached, hunched-over auntie, answering the questions in an incomprehensible dialect of the young barbarians, I mean music academics, searching for Hungarian music and collecting folk songs with a phonograph. [...]
Many well-known stories flash through the performance - mostly wrapped in improvisational humor. Kodály steals Emma away from Bartók with solmizing hand signals. Ady, Kosztolányi, Karinthy also appear in the play, as does Géza Csáth as a morbid gag, since he shoots himself after shooting his own wife. Lóránd Váta’s virtuoso grimaces follow the music perfectly, and he is brilliant with portraying several characters. It is impossible not to laugh when a reporter from the Hungarian Radio [Magyar Rádió], parodying today's style, asks one of the interviewees: "How do you rate your first encounter with Béla and Zoltán?"
Zsolt Hollósi: Béla és Zoltán, az ifjú barbárok [Béla and Zoltán, the young barbarians], revizoronline.com, 13.07.2022.
Éva Imre stands out among the actors from Cluj, who throughout the play portrays the fragile, sensitive, ageless and angelic Béla Bartók with such fantastic movement - we are in constant fear that he will fall and break himself or something will happen to him in the very next moment. Our hearts break for him when the insurance man in America turns up and tells us that all his belongings, including his piano, are now sadly to be removed. Fortunately, Zoltán Kodály, played by Ervin Szűcs, is by his side most of the time, protecting and safeguarding his friend.
And all the members of the company should be mentioned, as the entire performance is based on their improvisations, as well as the dancers, who accompany the production with breathtakingly beautiful movements. All of this performed in Cs. Zsuzsánna Kiss's most appropriate costumes: Bartók is distinguished from everyone else by his light brown suit and dark brown knitted waistcoat, while the others' clothes are just a subtle indication of when and where they were placed historically.
Hungarian teachers cannot take their students to a better place to make them understand the friendship between Arany and Petőfi than to the Pesti Theatre, and Bartók and Kodály cannot be spoken about in a more youthful and clear way than in Young Barbarians.
Noémi Sümegi: Hazaárulással vádolták meg az egyik legismertebb magyart [One of Hungary's best-known artists accused of treason], index.hu, 15.08.2022
Vidnyánszky Jr. and his team's work is like an unbreakable walnut: underneath the infinitely rich layers of thought, style, language and music, you discover new layers, while the sparkling exterior is immensely amusing and entertaining. There are many nuances to this intellectual firework display, sparkling symphony, stage existence that is exhilarating and meditative all at once, all embedded in the grotesque. Rapid scene changes, small sketches, scene fragments follow one another at a tremendous pace, and then suddenly we slow down, the silence of meditation sets in, history is also heard, and the play may slip into cinematic horror or a grotesque blunder.
Dezső Kovács: Magyar táncok 2.0 - Ifjú barbárok – Kolozsvári Állami Magyar Színház, Gyulai Várszínház [Young Barbarians - Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, Gyula Castle Theatre], art7.hu, Hungarian Dances 2.0, 02.08.2022
One of the highlights of Interferences, which particularly grabbed my attention, was a turbulent performance, an outpouring of energy and imagination, Young Barbarians, a co-production of the Gyula Castle Theatre, inspired by the lives of Béla Bartók and Kodály Zoltán, based on a text by Miklós Vecsei and improvisations by the cast, directed by Attila Vidnyanszky Jr.. A verbal delirium, as it is difficult to follow the improvisations in a translation with surtitles, and yet the flow moves from one situation to another, dance, music, a continuous display of fireworks.
Mirella Patureau: Between fear and hope, in Cluj, theatre has definitely chosen hope, Observator Cultural, no. 1138 (878) December 7-17, 2022
What is Hungarian music? What does the world think about it? What is the music of the people? What is its source? Who are we here in the Carpathian Basin and how do we come together? These questions resonate in a way that echoes even in the current artistic-political milieu. And the performance tries to create the overall picture of the tableau verbally, through the language of music and dance. This coherence fits the mythical story of the two figures, and what is more, it fits the musicality and musical quotations of the performance, as conceived by David Mester. Or rather, it fits with the drifting folk dance interludes choreographed by István Berecz.
Gábor Beretvás: „Ahol a politika kezdődik, ott megszűnik a művészet” ["Where politics begins, art ends"], Játéktér 2022/3.