The play has been done into an award-winning movie that I warrant is worth checking out. The almost entirely Serbian audience suggested (in a forced talkback after the reading) that you had to live in Yugoslavia during the time period to appreciate the play but I’d counter that. You really must dwell in a cultural bubble (or be very young) to not pick up on the themes of state surveillance and all its accoutrements. The acting was over-the-top, which drove the play, especially Antonio Brunetti in the lead. Done as a radio play the reading I attended would be unstoppable; but at least one and more probably two roles were miscast. Twin brothers who appeared not remotely similar and a young daughter played by a significantly older actress—despite excellent performances—were stumbling points. It shouldn’t matter but it did. Would a return to masks in theater get you the best performances unhampered by distracting trivialities?
Apparently the founders of the festival recognized a lack of opportunity to see international plays in Chicago. Hope was expressed that productions might follow if readings generate sufficient interest—already a tall order though. World premieres from England are in vogue on the Chicago stage, specifically in some theaters, but theater programming, unlike (say) a reader’s personal choice of a novel, veers toward the banal and away from the eclectic. My own experience of having a play read calcifies my prejudice: congratulations all around led to no mounting. The Balkan Spy felt refreshing because it evidenced (directly or indirectly) the influence of Gogol, which is seldom found in American plays.
World theater comprises many strains, one or two threads at most becoming predominant in the contemporary fabric locally. It's good to “see” something different, even if the seeing restricts itself to realms of the imagination instead of full-dress. A good play will carry without the trappings, even as an opera may suffice with merely a piano. Full orchestra is better; full performance ideal, but not necessary.