Die Affäre Rue de Lourcine
Director: Barbara Frey
Writer: Eugène Labiche in Elfriede Jelinek‘s translation/adaptation
Cast: Nicholas Ofczarek, Michael Maertens, Peter Matić, Markus Meyer, Maria Happel
Seen on: 3.4.2016
Lenglumé (Nicholas Ofczarek) wakes up one morning after a night of partying. He doesn’t really remember much and only barely recollects that the snoring man next to him is his school friend Mistingue (Michael Maertens) who was with him at their school reunion. Mistingue is doing similarly well. When Lenglumé’s wife Norine (Maria Happel) tells him about the murder of a young, poor woman the previous night, Lenglumé and Mistingue find clues that they were the killers and start putting a plan in motion to conceal their deed.
Die Affäre Rue de Lourcine was funny but also pretty exhausting. I think that another staging would have made it flow much more nicely. Instead it felt pretty long to me in spite of its short 90 minutes running time.
Die Affäre is a comedy with a serious core: while we laugh about the two guys (or at least are supposed to), there is the fact that there is not a second where they think that they maybe should talk to the police, to clear things up, to face up to whatever they did and get justice for the murdered woman. She doesn’t matter. Her death doesn’t matter. What matters is keeping up appearances, even if it means murdering again. Logically the happy end comes when the rich guys free themselves of all suspicion, not when the murderer of the woman is caught.
That is a dire set-up for a comedy, and yet the play is funny enough to make you laugh despite of it. So much so, that that serious core is sometimes forgotten. It certainly never gets all that poignant, at least not in this production.
But what annoyed me more – and that’s my own personal hang-up, your mileage may vary – was that both Ofczarek and Maertens play older and drunk the entire play through. Meaning that their enunciation is consistently slurred and comes with that creaking quality that actors usually give their old-people-voices. And that was simply tiring for me to listen to and got on my nerves pretty quickly.
Star of the show, once more, was Maria Happel who is quickly becoming my favorite actress at the Burgtheater. She is incredibly funny in a very physical way (unusual for a woman) that has nothing to do with the fact that she is fat (unusual for any person with more than a Hollywood body). I love watching her.
In any case, despite a couple of misgivings I have about the play, I enjoyed watching it and if you’re looking for a rather light-hearted and short theater evening, you could do way worse.