Schlechte Partie aka Mädchen ohne Mitgift [Without a Dowry]
Director: Alvis Hermanis
Writer: Alexander Ostrovsky
Cast: Dörte Lyssewski, Marie-Luise Stockinger, Peter Simonischek, Martin Reinke, Michael Maertens, Nicholas Ofczarek, Fabian Krüger, Hermann Scheidleder, Hans Dieter Knebel, Christoph Kohlbacher, Peta Klotzberg
Seen on: 4.2.2018
Larissa (Marie-Luise Stockinger) is beautiful and if she had any dowry, she would surely be able to choose her suitor. Unfortunately she doesn’t. Karandyschew (Michael Maertens) wants to marry her anyway. But then Paratow (Nicholas Ofczarek) shows up. He and Larissa used to be engaged until Paratow broke it off. Larissa is stull very much in love with him. Now that he’s back, she gets her hopes up once more. But recently broke Paratow is set to marry a rich woman the next day. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a little fun with Larissa, though.
Schlechte Partie looks lush, but that’s about the only really good thing about it. It’s too long, too male and too tame.
There would be a lot in the play that could be built upon, especially regarding Larissa. She is constantly the object of the men’s gaze in the play, always dressed in (beautiful) colorful dresses and (extraordinary) headdresses, she’s a bird of paradise among a group of toads (no offense to toads) and she’s constantly asked to perform for the men’s benefit. At the end, she even proclaims that she’s just an object.
Problem is that the play does nothing to subvert her status as an object. Instead it invites the audience to stare with the men (and I understand, Stockinger really is something to look at). [SPOILER] And then it all culminates in Larissa getting shot and instead of the tragedy it is, making her objectification by/through the men absolute, Larissa basically proclaims it as a suicide, absolving the men of any responsibility. [/SPOILER]
Given that framing, one has to be almost grateful that the play spends most of its time with the men and doesn’t dare to tap into the feminist potential. Only that the men are neither interesting nor entertaining. And since it’s the usual 3.5 hours of a Hermanis play, the entire thing becomes extremely long and boring.
At least the stage design is beautiful – and Larissa’s costumes are really something else. But even if the wrapping is a sight to behold, that doesn’t make the content of the package it’s wrapping anything more than shallow.
Summarizing: Doesn’t work.