Antigone

Antigone
Director: Jette Steckel
Writer: Sophocles, translated by Frank-Patrick Steckel
Cast: Aenne Schwarz, Mavie Hörbiger, Joachim Meyerhoff, Mirco Kreibich, Martin Schwab
Seen on: 26.6.2016

Plot:
Antigone’s (Aenne Schwarz) brothers have both fought on opposite sides in Thebes’ civil war and they both died doing it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, King Creon (Joachim Meyerhoff) has decided that Polyneices, who fought against him, is to be left unburied outside the city gates. Antigone can’t bear the thought that one of her brothers should be thus treated. She tries to convince her sister Ismene (Mavie Hörbiger), but ultimately she goes alone to bury Polyneices, despite Creon’s having expressly forbidden it.

Antigone is a fascinating play and the production I saw was interesting in many ways, but not successful in all aspects.

antigone

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Kammerorchester Basel / Blechacz / Pinnock

The Kammerorchester Basel played a concert conducted by Trevor Pinnock and with Rafał Blechacz on the piano.
Seen on: 24.6.2016

Their program consisted of some Ludwig van Beethoven (overture to op. 43 The Creatures of Prometheus, op. 19 Piano Concerto Number 2, the adagio cantabile of op. 13 Piano Sonato Number 8), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (K 543 Symphony Number 39), Frédéric Chopin (op. 56/2 Mazurka) and finally Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (the third movement of op. 107 Symphony Number 5).

To be quite honest with you, I don’t know much about classical music and I only heard this concert because my mom couldn’t attend and my dad was looking for somebody to go with him. So this review isn’t so much a review than it is a few thoughts jotted down for completion’s sake.

I definitely enjoyed the concert. The music was beautiful, though I honestly enjoyed the Mendelssohn Bartholdy most of all – even though that was only a small encore and certainly not the focus of the concert. But I’m simply a sucker for romantic classical music. I am sure they played very well, but here’s the part where I simply cannot say anything of substance. A big part of my entertainment though, was watching Pinnock conduct. We had great seats, so I was able to see him and his expressions quite clearly and he just seemed to have so much fun and enjoy himself so much and I think that transferred to the orchestra, the music and the audience.

In short, it was a great evening, even for a classical music novice like myself.

Trevor Pinnock

Trevor Pinnock

Dark Circus

Dark Circus
By and with STEREOPTIK (Romain Bermond, Jean-Baptiste Maillet)
Based on a story by Pierre Elie Ferrier aka Pef
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 4.6.2016

Plot:
The circus is in town, a circus unlike any other. The artists there are not only willing to risk life and limb for their show, they actually lose them. But hey, that’s what the audience came to see, isn’t it?

STEREOPTIK create animated films live on stage, partly using premade figurines, but mostly drawing with various materials (up to and including sand), building the world up and transforming its scenery over and over again right before your eyes. Everything is accompanied by life music. It’s fascinating to watch and above all, a whole lot of fun.

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Mi gran obra (un proyecto ambicioso) [My Great Work (An Ambitious Project)]

Mi gran obra (un proyecto ambicioso)
Director: David Espinosa
With artistic collaboration of: África Navarro
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 1.6.2016

Espinosa wanted to create the perfect theater, but realized that a project of that size was pretty difficult to achieve. So he decided to scale everything down – 1:87 – so his perfect theater became the size of a suitcase that he could actually bring along with him, the actors small figurines. The result is an extraordinary theater experience: in groups of 25 and seated by size (with binoculars for everybody), the audience gathers around a table where Espinosa sets up his unmoving dolls in a way to tell a moving stories in a few scenes, accompanied by music, sometimes a bit of video (played on a tablet) and always with a sense of humor. You can get an idea of how this works here.

I loved Mi gran obra. It was such a beautiful way of using the rather rigorous restrictions of the format to tell big stories with even bigger emotions and such an innovative way to deal with theater itself, it was magical.

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Идеальный муж. Комедия [An Ideal Husband. Comedy]

Идеальный муж. Комедия
Director: Konstantin Bogomolov
Writer: Konstantin Bogomolov
Based on: Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Anton Chekhov‘s Three Sisters, Johann Wolfgang Goethe‘s Faust and William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet
Cast: Nadezhda Borisova, Andrei Burkovsky, Rosa Khairullina, Svetlana Kolpakova, Alexei Kravchenko, Maxim Matveev, Igor Mirkurbanov, Darya Moros, Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko, Yana Osipova, Artyom Panchik, Vladimir Panchik, Aleksandr Semchev, Marina Sudina, Pavel Chinarev, Sergei Chonishvili, Pavel Vashchilin
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 27.5.2016

Plot:
Lord (Igor Mirkurbanov) is a famous Russian singer, about to be honored for his life’s work in the Kremlin. The prize is delivered by his friend Robert (Alexei Kravchenko) who is the Minister for Rubber Goods. But their partying finds a quick end when they are contacted by Cheavley, the main rival of Robert’s wife Gertrude. Cheavley has video evidence that Lord and Robert are actually lovers and threatens to expose them. In the world of Russian politics, intrigue and bigotry that cannot stand.

An Ideal Husband is a sometimes haphazard but always enthusiastic amalgamation of various texts that are full of political barbs, irony and sarcasm. While it was a bit long and seeing it in Vienna made it feel a little diluted, I did enjoy most of it.

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The Gold Rush (1925) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester

The Gold Rush
Director: Charles Chaplin
Writer: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, Malcolm Waite, Georgia Hale
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Charles Chaplin played by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester under direction of Cornelius Meister
Seen on: 24.5.2016

Plot:
A Lone Prospector (Charles Chaplin) makes his way to Klondike, hoping to find gold and with it, his luck. But the conditions there are more than harsh and soon he finds himself lost in the cold. By chance, he stumbles on a hut where he finds Black Larsen (Tom Murray) who tries to get rid of him. Instead, they are joined by a third gold digger, Big Jim MacKay (Mack Swain). In an uneasy truce they have to make it through the storm together somehow. But will their luck be enough to make it through?

The Gold Rush is an amazing film, no doubt about it. It is incredibly funny and touching at the same time, further proving that Chaplin is such an icon for a reason [even if it makes me deeply uncomfortable to say that about a guy who was way too much into teenage girls].

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Látszatélet [Imitation of Life]

Látszatélet
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Writer: Kata Wéber and company
Cast: Lili Monori, Roland Rába, Annamária Láng, Zsombor Jéger, Dáriusz Kozma
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 24.5.2016

Plot:
Lőrinc (Lili Monori) is sitting in her apartment, waiting for her son Szilveszter (Zsombor Jéger) to return. Instead of him, there’s Mihály (Roland Rába) who has come to throw Lőrinc out as she’s behind on rent. After the apartment is emptied, Veronika (Annamária Láng) moves in, and smuggles her little son Jónás (Dáriusz Kozma) into the apartment as well.

Despite great production design, strong performances and political intent, Látszatélet remains less insightful than it thinks it is, with an ending that dismantles in a few minutes what came before it.

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Roses

Roses is a “Freak Cabaret” by the Dakh Daughters band, directed by Vlad Troitsky.
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 17.5.2016

The Dakh is a theater in Kiev, out of which grew the Dakh Daughters band: an all-female group that takes existing songs and texts, mix them with each other and new things and give them their own twist. The result is a highly political, emotional cabaret concert that reminded me of The Tiger Lillies, but at the same time is very much its own thing. I was absolutley taken with it.

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Die Affäre Rue de Lourcine [L’Affaire de la rue de Lourcine]

Die Affäre Rue de Lourcine
Director: Barbara Frey
Writer: Eugène Labiche in Elfriede Jelinek‘s translation/adaptation
Cast: Nicholas Ofczarek, Michael Maertens, Peter Matić, Markus Meyer, Maria Happel
Seen on: 3.4.2016

Plot:
Lenglumé (Nicholas Ofczarek) wakes up one morning after a night of partying. He doesn’t really remember much and only barely recollects that the snoring man next to him is his school friend Mistingue (Michael Maertens) who was with him at their school reunion. Mistingue is doing similarly well. When Lenglumé’s wife Norine (Maria Happel) tells him about the murder of a young, poor woman the previous night, Lenglumé and Mistingue find clues that they were the killers and start putting a plan in motion to conceal their deed.

Die Affäre Rue de Lourcine was funny but also pretty exhausting. I think that another staging would have made it flow much more nicely. Instead it felt pretty long to me in spite of its short 90 minutes running time.

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Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov [The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks] (1924) + PHACE

Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov
Director: Lev Kuleshov
Writer: Nikolai Aseyev, Vsevolod Pudovkin
Cast: Porfiri Podobed, Boris Barnet, Aleksandra Khokhlova, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Sergey Komarov, Leonid Obolensky, Vera Lopatina, G. Kharlampiev
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by PHACE
Seen on: 29.3.2016

Plot:
USAmerican Mister West (Porfiri Podobed) is tasked with traveling to Russia to see the land of the Bolsheviks for himself. Trouble is, all West knows about Russia is a magazine article making them out to be the worst kind of savages and Mr West is pretty much scared out of his wits. So he takes his faithful companion Jeddy the Cowboy (Boris Barnet) and starts praying. Once he reaches Russia, West is actually robbed. The thieves find the magazine and decide to create the savage land portrayed there for West, sure that they can squeeze some money out of him that way.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks is a funny, albeit silly film. The music by PHACE wasn’t that much my cup of tea, but it works as accompaniment to the film.

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