Director: Ivo van Hove
Writer: Jan Peter Gerrits, translated by Simon Stephens
Based on: Luchino Visconti’s movie
Cast: Jude Law, Halina Reijn, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Chukwudi Iwuji, Robert de Hoog, Aysha Kala
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 3.6.2017

Gino (Jude Law) doesn’t really have a home, instead he just moves around. When he reaches a new town, he finds employment with gas station owner Joseph (Gijs Scholten van Aschat) and decides to stick around for a bit. But work is only a small reason: the bigger motivation is Joseph’s much younger, beautiful and obviously bored wife Hanna (Halina Reijn). As Gino and Hanna fall for each other, Joseph becomes an obstacle they plan to get rid of.

Just reading the plot description, I had my doubts about this play, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to see Jude Law live on stage. So I went for it anyway – and all of my worst expectations came true, plus even some bad expectations I didn’t know I should be having. It was a profoundly bad production.

I know I’m not the most romantic, passionate person out there, so any story that hinges on a passionate affair making people make bad decisions will have to work twice as hard as showing that passion to make me understand. There was such a lack of passion between Law and Reijn, that I doubt that even the most passionate person could have gone along with it. I don’t know how many times I went “they’ve known each other for five fucking minutes” during the play.

That this angle didn’t work wasn’t all the actor’s fault, though. In fact, I’d say they really did their best and weren’t half-bad at it, but they had just no chance. The production made some extremely strange choices. From having Hanna “cook” by hammering a huge raw piece of meat with a knife to having an actual trash party, I kept scratching my head at most of the artistic choices here. And don’t even get me started on the engine and the motor oil. It’s no surprise that there was no chance for believable passion in the middle of that. 

In addition, the plot really was a misogynist crapfest. Poor Gino getting tricked into murdering a man by this evil, evil woman, this conniving bitch, who utterly destroys him. What do you mean, he is responsible for his own actions? How can he possibly be when he’s faced with a beautiful woman for, like, two days? Who flirts with him? Who fucks him? He has to kill her husband, there’s just no other choice.

At least Jude Law is pretty. And the play is not very long. But that’s pretty much everything positive I can say about this production.

Summarizing: Disappointing and bad all around.

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