Latviešu mīlestība [Latvian Love]

[Wiener Festwochen.]

Latvian Love is a play by Alvis Hermanis [German] and stars Guna Zariņa, Baiba Broka, Vilis Daudziņš, Ģirts Krūmiņš and Kaspars Znotiņš. The actors improvised and wrote the scenes themselves.

Plot:
Starting with reading real lonely hearts ad, Alvis Hermanis and his actors explore the first meetings of 13 couples in Latvia. Those meetings range from teenage poetry readings to two retirees who just want to make their lives a little easier by sharing it with someone.

Latvian Love is a wonderful play. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s beautiful. The actors are amazing, as is the costume and stage design (by Monika Pormale). It just runs a tad too long – 10 scenes would have probably been enough (though I wouldn’t really know which scenes to cut).

The stage design was rather simple – beautifully painted backgrounds, which are quickly exchanged and supplemented with only a few props needed for the actors to interact with. It’s a little oldfashioned and it works perfectly for the play.

But what’s even better was the costume design. The actors change quickly between various ages, from teenager to middle-aged to old. And while they of course also changed their body language and way of talking, the costumes (and wigs) really make it work.

But even without the costumes the actors would have been exquisite. Extremely funny in one instance, vulnerable and touching in the next.

Despite the fact that most of the scenes have nothing to do with each other, there is of course a common thread of more or less slowly approaching a new person with the intention to see if there’s enough of a connection to share your life from then on. It was also interesting to get a look at Latvian culture, though in many parts it doesn’t seem so different from Austrian culture. I’m sure that I missed a lot of subtleties, but it didn’t stop my enjoyment of the thing.

Summarising: Very recommended.

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