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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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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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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Kings of War – DNF

Kings of War
Director: Ivo van Hove
Writer: Bart Van den Eynde, Peter Van Kraaij, Rob Klinkenberg
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III
Cast: Kitty Courbois, Hélène Devos, Fred Goessens, Janni Goslinga, Aus Greidanus jr., Robert de Hoog, Hans Kesting, Hugo Koolschijn, Ramsey Nasr, Chris Nietvelt, Alwin Pulinckx, Bart Slegers, Eelco Smits, Harm Duco Schut
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 7.6.2015

Plot:
Henry V ascends the throne after his father’s death a little too young, but he matures into a King who leads Great Britain into war with France  that he wins. But once his son, Henry VI, follows him on the throne, the power Henry V built starts to crumble. Henry VI is weak, easily swayed and not interested in ruling at all. That gives the House of York the opportunity to take over the throne, first with Edward IV as King. But Edward is betrayed by his younger brother, Richard III, who cruelly deposes him and takes over the power.

Kings of War takes three of Shakespeare’s plays and bundles them into one theatrical evening – a long one. While it is interesting to see the plays forming such a coherent whole, it’s extremely dense – and I admit that I left about half an hour or so before it ended because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

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John Gabriel Borkman

John Gabriel Borkman
Director: Simon Stone
Writer: Henrik Ibsen
Cast: Martin Wuttke, Birgit Minichmayr, Caroline Peters, Max Rothbart, Nicola Kirsch, Roland Koch, Liliane Amuat
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 28.5.2015

Plot:
Ella Rentheim (Caroline Peters) returns home to see her estranged twin sister Gunhild (Birgit Minichmayr) and Gunhild’s husband, John Gabriel Borkman (Martin Wuttke). Borkman was disgraced in a financial scandal and hasn’t left the attic since he was released from prison. Gunhild, too, is eccentric, to say the least. Only Gunhild’s and John Gabriel’s son Erhart (Max Rothbart) has a halfway normal life – which he had to fight for. Ella’s arrival makes all of them confront the past and try to rearrange their lives.

The play, unfortunately, didn’t work for me at all. Judging by the audience’ enthusiastic reaction though, my boredom and exasperation at the show seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

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O Jardim [The Garden]

O Jardim
Director: Leonardo Moreira
Writer: Leonardo Moreira
Cast: Thiago Amaral, Mariah Amélia Farah, Aline Filócomo, Rita Grillo, Paula Picarelli, Edison Simão, Fernanda Stefanski
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 27.5.2015

Plot:
One house, three generations: In the 1930s, we see a young man and woman, immigrants from Poland, going through the final stages of their break-up. 40 years later, he has lost most of his cognitive functions to dementia and his daughters try to prepare him for his birthday party. And yet another 40 years later, his granddaughter films her good-bye as she has to give up the house which has been resituted to a Polish family, for reasons unknown.

O Jardim takes a really cool concept and really brings it to life with interesting characters and great actors. I really enjoyed it.

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Myórtvyjye dúshi [Dead Souls]

Myórtvyjye dúshi
Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
Writer: Kirill Serebrennikov
Based on: Nikolai Gogol‘s novel
Cast: Odin Biron, Oleg Gushtshin, Ilya Kovrishnikh, Anton Kukushkin, Nikita Kukushkin, Andrey Poliakoy, Yevgeny Sangadshiev, Sergey Sosnovsky, Semyon Steinberg, Mikhail Troinik, Anton Vassilyev
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 20.5.2015

Plot:
Tax official Chichikov comes to a small town in the middle of nowhere and he has a mission there: to acquire as many ‘dead souls’ for as little money as he possibly can. Dead souls are serfs that have died but their death has not been registered by the census yet, so their owners still pay taxes for them. It stands to reason that they would want to get rid of those souls. But why would Chichikov want them and why would he fight for them in increasingly absurd negotiations?

Dead Souls is a play full of pretty cool ideas, but unfortunately none of them really come to life and you’re settled with a play that is over two hours long and doesn’t have any breaks which ends up just being exhausting, nothing else.

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Così fan tutte

Così fan tutte
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (music) / Lorenzo Da Ponte (libretto)
Cast: Anett Fritsch, Paola Gardina, Andreas Wolf, Juan Francisco Gatell, Kerstin Avemo, William Shimell
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Plot:
Ferrando (Juan Francisco Gatell) is engaged to Dorabella (Paola Gardina) and Guglielmo (Andreas Wolf) to Fiordiligi (Anett Fritsch) and both couples are very much in love. They are staying with Don Alfonso (William Shimell) and his wife Despina (Kerstin Avemo). Don Alfonso is convinced of the fickleness of women and Ferrando and Guglielmo agree to a bet with him: They will dress up as strangers and try to seduce the fiancées of the other guy. But will that end well?

This production of Così fan tutte is extremely slick – from the stage design to the costumes, from the acting to the music, everything is just really glossy and smooth. For me, it hit a couple of wrong notes (no pun intended), but it was beautiful.

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Box in the Big Trunk

Box in the Big Trunk
Director: Kuro Tanino
Writer: Kuro Tanino
Cast: Ikuma Yamada, Ichigo Iida, Momoi Shimada, Taeko Seguchi
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Plot:
A student, stressed out by exams and his relationship with his father, finds himself in a weird and fantastical world, where a pig-woman and a sheep-woman live who mostly try to be helpful but actually aren’t at all. The student finds himself confronted with his repressed sexuality and pretty much all the penises in the world.

Box in the Big Trunk meanders wildly between cringeworthy and wonderfully absurd. At times it is very funny. But mostly its premise remains boring and probably only interesting if you have a penis and struggle with your sexuality.

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