Der Kandidat [The Candidate]

Der Kandidat
Director: Georg Schmiedleitner
Writer: Carl Sternheim, Florian Hirsch
Based on: Gustave Flaubert‘s play Le Candidat
Cast: Gregor Bloéb, Bernd Birkhahn, Dietmar König, Petra Morzé, Christina Cervenka, Valentin Postlmayr, Sebastian Wendelin, Florian Teichtmeister, Sabine Haupt
Seen on: 15.11.2018

Banker Russek (Gregor Bloéb) decides to go into politics. Not really because he has any convictions, or anything to stand for, really, but because it’s another source of power that he can tap. To ensure his election, Russek asks his daughter Luise (Christina Cervenka) to marry his opponent’s son (Valentin Postlmayr), and his wife (Petra Morzé) takes the chance to push their agenda as well by flirting with journalist Bach (Sebastian Wendelin). With the lawyer Evelyn (Sabine Haupt) as Russek’s spin doctor, there really isn’t anything that can stand in his way.

Der Kandidat is a mixed bag of beans for me. It was entertaining enough, but there were a couple of things that didn’t really work.

To me, the best part of this play was the stage design: a huge revolving circle, much like a roulette table, and behind/above it a mirror. Things are always on the move here, and reflected back to an audience at a certain angle, but ultimately it’s a game of chance were some people can stack the odds in their favor. It’s an eloquent metaphor and it looks cool.

I also enjoyed the performances, above all Sabine Haupt as the (literally) contortionist spin doctor. She was awesome. But at the same time, it also feeds into the trope of the cold scheming woman who pushes the man towards evil at every point. Hello misogyny, you shouldn’t have come.

They really did their best to update the play to the current situation which works very well. But it was also such a centrist take on politics; seeing no difference between left (populism) and right (populism) and ultimately claiming that both are equally devoid of ideals or positions. And that just isn’t true. (In fact, I’d go so far as argue that both left and right have very clear positions, although the right usually doesn’t like to articulate them so much because it becomes quickly obvious how evil their ideology is – it’s the centrists who don’t have a position. But here I concur with the play: it’s those without ideology who go the longest way nowadays.)

Towards the end, the play could have used a little more brevity – it does grow a little long. But for most of its run time, Der Kandidat is entertaining, albeit not always right.

Summarizing: Okay but not more.

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