Purple Rose of Cairo

Purple Rose of Cairo [German] is a play based on the film by Woody Allen currently at the Volkstheater [German] in Vienna. It was directed by Gil Mehmert and stars Heike Kretschmer and Till Firit.

Cecilia (Heike Kretschmer) is stuck in a crappy job and an abusive relationship. To escape for a little while, she goes to the cinema. After she has seen the movie “Purple Rose of Cairo” for the fifth time, one character of the movie comes off the screen – Tom Baxter (Till Firit). Tom tells Cecilia he fell in love with her and that he plans to spend the rest of his life in reality with her.
Soon half of Hollywood is in uproar, including the actor who played Tom.

The movie is not Allen’s best work. But the play is pretty bad. The story is one good idea that isn’t actually able to support a whole plot. But were the movie had good actors and a good director, in the play the acting is so-so and the directing is really bad. What’s left is a production that falls completely flat.

When the play started, I was very optimistic – the stage design was pretty awesome. It looked cool, it was easily and quickly adjusted to the different settings with minimal changes… I liked it.

But then it was a sequence of cheap jokes badly delivered. Heike Kretschmer and Till Firit weren’t all bad but the screenplay was shallow and they didn’t manage to add any depth to it.

The point of no return, though, came when there was the scene where Tom Baxter is confronted by the actor who played him. Since Till Firit doesn’t have a twin (or at least not one who’s into acting), he had to play both parts himself at the same time. And instead of embracing it completely, by having Firit jump around on stage (you know, step to the left, he’s Tom, step to the right, he’s the actor) or by pretending that one of the guys is off stage, they had a curtain drawn in the middle of the stage and Firit would continue to get behind it, change and  reappear alternately as Baxter and as the actor.
And that was just plain ridiculous.

The direction was rather bad in general. Mehmert essentially copied the movie to the stage and that doesn’t really work. I think it would have been better if he had put his own spin on things.

Summarising, watch the movie if you’re interested but skip the play.

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