Der Besuch der alten Dame [The Visit]

Der Besuch der alten Dame
Director: Frank Hoffmann
Writer: Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Cast: Maria Happel, Rolf Mautz, Hans Dieter Knebel, Burghart Klaußner, Petra Morzé, Roland Koch, Dietmar König, Daniel Jesch, Marcus Kiepe, Michael Abendroth, Harald Retschitzegger, Franz Schöffthaler, Peter Nitsche
Seen on: 1.10.2018

Plot:
Claire Zachanassian (Maria Happel) returns to her hometown of Güllen for the first time in decades. She had to leave the town in shame, betrayed by her lover. But she rose from the ashes, married rich and now she has a plan to get revenge on everybody who ever wronged her – especially her ex.

Der Besuch der alten Dame seems to be a good play, but this production of it really didn’t work. They managed to have a comedy where I could see the funny bits and yet I never laughed. That’s really a problem.

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Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Director: Adam Brazier
Writer: music by Norman Campbell, book and lyrics by Don Harron
Based on: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel
Cast: A. J. Bridel, Susan Henley, George Masswohl, Katie Kerr, Aaron Hastelow, Marlane O’Brien
Seen on: 23.7.2018

Plot:
Siblings Marilla (Susan Henley) and Matthew Cuthbert (George Masswohl) have decided to take in a foster child. A strong boy who can help them with the work on the farm – work that has become harder for them as they grew older. But when Matthew goes to the train station to pick the kid up, he finds a girl – Anne Shirley (A. J. Bridel). Not knowing what else to do, he takes her home anyway. And before they can clear things up, Anne has wormed her way into their hearts as much as the hearts of all of Avonlea.

I caught this musical version of the novel pretty spontaneously and it was nice and entertaining, but it didn’t win me over as much as the novel did.

The stage just before the show starts.
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Liebesgeschichten und Heiratssachen [Love Stories and Marriage Affairs]

Liebesgeschichten und Heiratssachen
Director: Georg Schmiedleitner
Writer: Johann Nestroy
Cast: Gregor Bloéb, Marie-Louise Stockinger, Stefanie Dvorak, Regina Fritsch, Martin Vischer, Dietmar König, Christoph Radakovits, Markus Meyer, Alexandra Henkel, Peter Matić, Elisabeth Augustin, Robert Reinagl
Seen on: 10.6.2018

Plot:
Florian Fett (Gregor Bloéb) has made some money and moved from being a butcher to being a man of means and influence. And he intends to keep it that way. that also means that the women in his family need to marry advantageously. His daughter Fanny (Marie-Louise Stockinger) is in love with Anton (Martin Vischer), a merchant’s son. His more distant relative Ulrike (Stefanie Dvorak) is in love with Alfred (Christoph Radakovits) who appears to be poor, but isn’t actually. And the opportunistic Nebel (Markus Meyer) tries to win over the bristly, but rich Lucia Distel (Regina Fritsch), Fett’s sister-in-law. And Fett himself is everywhere, trying to make sure things happen in his own best interest.

Liebesgeschichten und Heiratssachen may not be the best thing I have ever seen at the Burgtheater, but it is far from the worst, despite being a comedy of errors in parts – and those rarely work for me.

The cast of Liebesgeschichten und Heiratssachen during the play.
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Der Rosenkavalier [The Knight of the Rose] (1925) + Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Geoffrey Paterson

Der Rosenkavalier
Director: Robert Wiene
Writer: Louis Nerz, Robert Wiene
Based on: the opera by Richard Strauss (music) and Hugo von Hofmannsthal (libretto)
Cast: Michael Bohnen, Huguette Duflos, Paul Hartmann, Jaque Catelain, Elly Felicie Berger, Carmen Cartellieri, Karl Forest, Friedrich Feher
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Richard Strauss played by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson
Seen on: 25.5.2018

Content note: questionable consent

Plot:
Countess Maria Theresia von Werdenberg (Huguette Duflos) is surprised by her cousin Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau (Michael Bohnen) while the young Octavian (Jacque Catelain) is in her room. Octavian quickly dresses up as a chambermaid and escapes notice, especially since Ochs has his own problems: he is looking to get married to Sophie (Elly Felicie Berger), hoping to get out of debt by the connection. The Countess suggests that Octavian could be his “Rosenkavalier”, his second in command for the wedding, a mix of messenger and wedding planner. Ochs agrees to the suggestion, but Octavian proves to be a difficult choice for everybody.

Der Rosenkavalier has beautiful music, but not much else about it worked for me, despite the obviously lavish production.

Film poster showing Jaque Catelain and Huguette Duflos.

[SPOILERS.]

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Phobiarama

Phobiarama
Directed by: Dries Verhoeven
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 22.5.2018

“Plot”:
A haunted house, a ghost train riding through darkness. But what exactly are we afraid of? As political rhetoric keeps whipping up fear and looks for a scapegoat, we might be missing the most obvious and dangerous developments.

Phobiarama builds its concept from a single idea and that idea is a good one. The execution doesn’t work all the way through, but it works most of the time. They do make a good point.

Two people in a bumper car in the dark.

[SPOILERS, I guess. Can you spoil a performance?]

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Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Rufus Norris
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Rory Kinnnear, Anne-Marie Duff, Kevin Harvey, Stephen Boxer, Trevor Fox, Hannah Hutch, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Beatrice Scirocchi, Parth Thakerar, Patrick O’Kane,
Seen on: 10.5.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]

Plot:
Macbeth (Rory Kinnear) and Banquo (Kevin Harvey) just fought successfully for King Duncan (Stephen Boxer) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Anne-Marie Duff) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

This version of Macbeth has its strong moments and I have definitely seen worse productions, but I’ve also seen better.

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Ein Volksfeind [An Enemy of the People]

Ein Volksfeind
Director: Jette Steckel
Writer: Henrik Ibsen, translated and adapted by Frank-Patrick Steckel
Cast: Joachim Meyerhoff, Dorothee Hartinger, Irina Sulaver, Mirco Kreibich, Martin Schwab, Ole Lagerpusch, Peter Knaack, Matthias Mosbach, Friederike Bernhardt, Martin Mader
Seen on: 26.4.2018

Plot:
The town is doing well ever since it managed to get tourists due to a mineral spring. After a string of sicknesses, town doctor Thomas Stockmann (Joachim Meyerhoff) believes that the spring is actually polluted. He informs the authorities, in particular his brother Peter (Mirco Kreibich), the town’s mayor. But it’s election year and Peter really doesn’t want to risk his position by threatening the town’s biggest source of income – and his biggest success.

Ein Volksfeind is a really fantastic production of a highly political and frustratingly current play. I absolutely enjoyed it.

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The Writer

The Writer
Director: Blanche McIntyre
Writer: Ella Hickson
Cast: Romola Garai, Michael Gould, Lara Rossi, Samuel West
Seen on: 23.4.2018

Plot:
A young woman (Lara Rossi), an aspiring playwright, meets the director (Samuel West) of a play she just saw and tells him just what she though of it. He barely takes her comments seriously, believing her naive, but inspired by her fire offers her a job anyway. They both are the characters of the Writer’s (Romola Garai) new play. The Director (Michael Gould) tries to bring it to life, but doesn’t seem to get what it’s about, making the Writer uncomfortable. Her boyfriend (Samuel West) urges her to stay with it regardless since it’s a well-paying job. Somehow the Writer has to find the balance between her vision and patriarchal and capitalist demands.

The Writer is a great piece of theater. It’s insightful, demanding, weird, self-aware, femininst and gripping. Beautifully done.

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Eines langen Tages Reise in die Nacht [Long Day’s Journey Into Night]

Eines langen Tages Reise in die Nacht
Director: Andrea Breth
Writer: Eugene O’Neill
Cast: Sven-Eric Bechtolf, Corinna Kirchhoff, Alexander Fehling, August Diehl, Andrea Wenzl
Seen on: 15.4.2018

Plot:
James Tyrone (Sven-Eric Bechtolf) used to be a great actor, now he is mostly remembered for a singe role. His wife Mary (Corinna Kirchhoff) just returned from rehab for her morphine addiction. Their older son James (Alexander Fehling) drinks too much and their younger son Edmund (August Diehl) has tuberculosis. And on this day, the four of them come together and things just start to spill.

Eines langen Tages Reise in die Nacht works off a strong basis but the production doesn’t work – the mise-en-scène just didn’t tie everything together, rather the opposite.

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