Rutgers Theater Company presents Witold Gombrowicz’s "Ivona, Princess of Burgundia" Feb. 18 to 23

She may not speak, but Princess Ivona has got a lot to say about humanity’s sordid side.

The title character in Rutgers Theater Company’s Ivona, Princess of Burgundia, running from Tuesday, February 18, through Sunday, February 23, 2014, at the Jameson Studio Theater, is a silent and mysterious force that threatens to take down an entire kingdom.

All is well for the corrupt courtiers of Burgundia until Ivona—awkward, silent, and plain—shows up. Instead of ignoring (or banishing) her, young Prince Philip decides he must marry her, if only to shake things up in his royal utopia. That’s when things really get ugly, as the prince’s impulsive decision incites rage and disgust (and worse) among the aristocracy.

“Ivona is a mirror to the people she meets,” says Lenard Petit, the director of the production and a Theater Department faculty member. “She reflects their dark sides.”

Polish novelist and playwright Witold Gombrowicz completed Ivona in 1935, just as World War II was breaking out across Europe. Ivona, his first play, is a dark “social commentary of Polish history,” says Petit, but there is “a great deal of humor in it,” including physical comedy and biting one-liners.

Even so, things get downright vicious as chaos and paranoia overtake the kingdom and life spirals out of control. Ivona’s very presence exposes the royal family’s true nature, taking the characters to a “beastly place,” says Petit, who is also the director of the Michael Chekhov Acting Studio in New York City.

Ivona is an “absurd and irrational” love story, says Petit, but at its heart is a comedic commentary on human nature.

“It’s entertainment,” Petit says, “but there are psychological truths, too.”

Ivona, Princess of Burgundia runs from Tuesday, February 18, through Sunday, February 23, 2014, at the Jameson Studio Theater. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $12 for Rutgers alumni and employees and seniors, and only $10 for students with valid ID.The Jameson Studio Theater is located at 30 Jones Avenue, on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 848-932-7511.

Posted February 2014