Contemporary poet and playwright Balázs Szálinger's latest play, Kályha Kati, takes place at the turn of the year 1918-19 in Nagybánya, Transylvania, during the Romanian occupation. The setting of the fictional play – written with historical authenticity – is a pub, owned by Kati Kályha, who in these stormy times, when everything is uncertain, gathers her friends and family around her and fights for them as Mother Courage, for their future, for their life. If necessary, she lies, bribes, and makes a deal. She is selfish in her altruism, merciless in her love. Fights for them even though this fight can only be lost.
We are before Treaty of Trianon, but not by much. Looking back from today, we know that the occupation was not only temporary, with the redrawing of the borders, Nagybánya will soon become part of Romania for good. But the characters of the story do not have a historical perspective, they do not understand what is happening and how long it will last, how a friend becomes an enemy, a minority becomes an oppressor. They only feel the threat, the torturous uncertainty, in the shadow of a war and a pandemic.