Once upon a time … Abeles Cobeles


In the middle of the Carnival season, you might need some help with choosing a killer costume. Becoming a princess may be your lifelong ambition, but as our latest offering of the Hungarian folk tales, Abeles Cobeles tells you, dressing up as a princess doesn’t make you one. Method acting, however, might help you overcome the greatest obstacles. If you’re willing to identify with your role completely, you can kill the devil, and live happily ever after.


Once upon a time, a king went hunting in the forest. At nightfall, he lost his way, and prayed for somebody to lead him out of the woods. His prayers were answered by the devil, who showed him the way, and only asked for one thing in return. Something the king hadn’t have when he left for the woods, and that became while he was away. If you’ve read any of the previous folk tales, you know two things. First, that such a thing can only be a baby, a newborn princess in this case. Second, that you never under any circumstances make a pact with the devil.

15 years later the red, flaming little man comes back for the princess. The royal parents try to outsmart the devil, first disguising the daughter of the goose shepherd, then Miss Swineherd as the princess, but the geese and the pigs recognized their mistresses. As the devil couldn’t be fooled, the king let go of his daughter, and she was taken to hell.

In hell, the devil also held a boy, Johnny in captivity. At the service of the devil, Johnny and the princess make friends, and decide to flee. As the boy is well-versed in incantations, he puts a spell and spits on a broom, so that it speaks like them when the devil calls. When the devil realizes his prisoners are gone, he tells in heavy dialect to his sub-devil to fly for the fugitives on a shovel and bring them back. By the pricking of her ears the princess feels the devil’s apprentice approaching, so they do a somersault (kecskebuka in Old Hungarian) and Johnny turns into an old priest and the princess turn into a church. The little devil catches up, and asks the priest if he’s seen a little Johnny passing by. But all the priest says is a sacred-sounding abeles cobeles. He keeps kneeling and abeles cobeles-ing like crazy, so the little devil flies back to his master. The devil sends another apprentice on a hot iron after the fugitives, who do another kecskebuka and transform into a field of wheat and its keeper. When asked about Johnny and the princess, the keeper only says ‘boo, boo’ to the birds. Disappointed by this madman, the little devil flies off. Now the devil sees it’s his job to find the young rebels, so he jumps on a broom and sets off. Kecskebuka done, the princess turns into a golden duck and Johnny into a lake. The smart devil knows it’s them, so he braves the cold water just like a fragile old lady would. He tries to catch the duck, but it just keeps swimming further and further away. Without further ado the devil drowns, and the youngsters celebrate with another kecskebuka. The princess and Johnny go back home to the king, get married and spend the rest of their lives teaching method acting and kecskebuka-ing.




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