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

Plot:
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.

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Mütter [Mothers]

Mütter
Director: Milena Michalek
Writer: Milena Michalek and the cast
Cast: Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer, Alice Peterhans, Daniel Jocic, Karim Taelab, Marwan Taelab, Tarek Taelab
Seen on: 14.11.2018

Plot:
Being a mother and being a woman seems inextricably linked with each other. But what does that mean, exactly? And where does it affect us all? What about having a mother and being a mother and becoming a mother or not? Three women (Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer, Alice Peterhans) work their way through several roles and scenarios to figure that out.

Mütter is an interesting, essayistic play that works almost all of the time. It has a lot to say and says it with a sense of humor that I found very refreshing. It’s a really enjoyable play, despite getting stuck at times.

Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer and Alice Peterhans in the play.
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Die Stadt ohne Juden [The City Without Jews] (1924) + PHACE

Die Stadt ohne Juden
Director: H.K. Breslauer
Writer: Ida Jenbach, H.K. Breslauer
Based on: Hugo Bettauer‘s novel
Cast: Johannes Riemann, Anny Miletty, Gisela Werbisek, Armin Berg, Hans Moser, Eugen Neufeld, Ferdinand Mayerhofer, Mizi Griebl, Karl Tema, Hans Effenberger
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by PHACE
Seen on: 7.11.2018

Content Note: antisemitism

Plot:
Austria has a new government and the new Chancellor (Eugen Neufeld) is a raging antisemite. He manages to pass a new law that will force all Jews to leave by the end of the year. The law is received with great enthusiasm, and the Jews actually do leave, although there are some people who are against it like the Jewish artist Leo (Johannes Riemann) and the girl he is in love with, Lotte (Anny Miletty), daughter of a politician who voted for the banishment. But once the Jews are gone, it doesn’t quite have the intended effect.

Of course, from today’s perspective Die Stadt ohne Juden seems both prescient and not exactly great activism anymore. In any case, it’s a chilling historical document and an interesting film.

The film poster showing a drawing of a shadowy figuring in red hovering over a city while a huge mass of people is leaving through the city gate.
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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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