Lady Eats Apple

Lady Eats Apple
Director: Bruce Gladwin
Writer: Mark Deans, Simon Laherty, Romany Latham, Brian Lipson, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price
Cast: Mark Deans, Simon Laherty, Romany Latham, Brian Lipson, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 16.6.2017

Plot:
In the beginning god created the world and with the creation of life, they also created death. And everybody has to die. But there’s also something in-between life and death that is worth exploring.

Lady Eats Apple is a fresh look at an old topic that profits immensely from the fact that it was created by disabled and neurodivergent actors, as well as its sense of humor and creativity.

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Congo na Chanel

Congo na Chanel
Director: Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe
Writer: Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe
Cast: Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe, Pierre Emanuel Finzi, Evandro Luis Pedroni, Sebastijan Gec, Prince Zeka
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 15.6.2017

“Plot”:
When Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe was a child, her family left Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, with the rise of Mobutu and moved to France. Today, she lives in Vienna. Now, over 40 years later, she tries to take another look at the country she and her family came from in an interactive performance that mixes dance and video installation, documentary and fiction.

There was much to like about Congo na Chanel. It’s an eccentric performance piece. But it was also a little disappointing because it didn’t, in fact, show us any images of Kinshasa.

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Obsession

Obsession
Director: Ivo van Hove
Writer: Jan Peter Gerrits, translated by Simon Stephens
Based on: Luchino Visconti’s movie
Cast: Jude Law, Halina Reijn, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Chukwudi Iwuji, Robert de Hoog, Aysha Kala
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 3.6.2017

Plot:
Gino (Jude Law) doesn’t really have a home, instead he just moves around. When he reaches a new town, he finds employment with gas station owner Joseph (Gijs Scholten van Aschat) and decides to stick around for a bit. But work is only a small reason: the bigger motivation is Joseph’s much younger, beautiful and obviously bored wife Hanna (Halina Reijn). As Gino and Hanna fall for each other, Joseph becomes an obstacle they plan to get rid of.

Just reading the plot description, I had my doubts about this play, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to see Jude Law live on stage. So I went for it anyway – and all of my worst expectations came true, plus even some bad expectations I didn’t know I should be having. It was a profoundly bad production.

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Discotropic

Discotropic
Director: niv Acosta
Cast: niv Acosta, Ashley Brockington, BEARCAT, Bleue Liverpool, Fannie Sosa, Jay Boogie
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 1.6.2017

“Plot”:
In a performance space somewhere between Science Fiction, Disco and Tropics, six black, queer performers use the combination of the remoteness of space, retrofuturistic ambivalence of SciFi and the rhythm of music and dancing to negotiate visibility and marginalization.
[It’s difficult to sum up. You can get an impression of it here. And you can find my favorite part here.]

So far my experiences with performance art have been quite mixed. I made several attempts during the Festwochen, most with mild to no success. 2017 saw a change in the artistic leadership of the Festival, bringing a fresh (outspokenly intersectional) perspective and several performances that sounded way too interesting to pass up. Discotropic was one of them, and I have to say that I am very happy that I gave it a try despite my reluctance with (and little knowledge about) performances. It was a fascinating, immersive experience that made me question my own reactions and ideas in many interesting ways.

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All the Sex I’ve Ever Had

All the Sex I’ve Ever Had
Director: Darren O’Donnell
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 31.5.2017

Plot:
Six local people, all over 65 years of age, were found for this production and asked to talk about their sexual history on screen. So Burkhart, Hannelore, Herbert, Hermine, Moni and Veronika walk the audience through their history – in chronological order, of course – and every once in a while ask the audience some questions, too.

All the Sex I Ever Had is an interesting, ambitious theater project and a very entertaining experience for the audience. I would have wished for a little more diversity and maybe a little more critical commentary, but I did enjoy myself.

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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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