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

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.

kingsofwar1 Continue reading

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

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.

johngabrielborkman Continue reading

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

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.

ojardim Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

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

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.


Continue reading

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

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.


Continue reading


Director: Brett Bailey
Writer: Brett Bailey, Fabrizio Cassol (music)
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play Macbeth / Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera
Cast: Owen Metsileng, Nobulumko Mngxekeza, Otto Maidi
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Macbeth (Owen Metsileng) is a warlord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Witches foretell him that he will achieve great things. Hungry for power, Macbeth and his wife (Nobulumko Mngxekeza) are intrigued by the prospect – and what better place to ruthlessly rise than a country at war? So Macbeth succeeds, at least at first.

I’m not the world’s biggest opera fan, but I was very much intrigued by the concept of this one. And the actual thing very much does the concept justice: the music is cool the stage and setting awesome and I as completely engrossed.


Continue reading

River of Fundament (2014) – DNF

River of Fundament / Festwochen link
Director: Matthew Barney
Writer: Matthew Barney, David Grimm
Based on: Norman Mailer‘s novel Ancient Evenings
Cast: John Buffalo Mailer, Milford Graves, Dave Bald EagleMadyn CoakleyMaggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Burstyn, Deborah Harry, Salman Rushdie
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Norman I (John Buffalo Mailer) is on his way to be reborn. But a lot of things have to happen for that to be possible. First Norman has to wade through a river of shit to get to his own wake. But that’s only the beginning.

When I got the ticket for this film (which is part new footage, part footage from earlier outdoor productions), I knew that there was a high chance I wouldn’t like a five-hour, modern, surreal opera based on a Norman Mailer novel. But I wanted to give it a shot anyway. Well. Now I can say with confidence that I don’t like this five-hour, modern, surreal opera based on a Norman Mailer novel. I walked out after the first act.

riveroffundament Continue reading

Van den vos [About the Fox]

Van den vos
Director: F.C. Bergman
Writer: Josse De Pauw
Based on: Reynard the Fox
Cast: Stef Aerts, Joé Agemans, Viviane De Muynck, Gregory Frateur, Bart Hollanders, Dirk Roofthooft, Thomas Verstraeten, Marie Vinck
Part of: Wiener Festwochen


Detective Isegrim Wolf is obsessed with finding Reynard Fox who raped and mutilated his wife and hurt his son. Wolf sends a couple of men after Fox, while he is visited by the apparition of a young girl – another victim of Fox. As things go on, Wolf loses himself more and more in a mix of horror from and admiration for Fox.

The original story about Reynard certainly isn’t a barrel of laughs but this play is pretty much atrocious. I was so close to walking out of the play several times but I was frozen in place from the horror of it.



Continue reading

Written on Skin

Written on Skin
Director: Katie Mitchell
Conductor: Kent Nagano
Writer: Martin Crimp (libretto), George Benjamin (music)
Based on: Guillem de Cabestanh‘s Le coeur mangé (The Eaten Heart)
Cast: Audun Iversen, Barbara Hannigan, Iestyn Davies, Victoria Simmonds, Allan Clayton
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

As angels are rummaging on stage and prepare the set, the Protector (Audun Iversen), a wealthy land owner, asks the Boy (Iestyn Davies) into his home to write and illustrate a book about his accomplishments so far and his bright future, all pretty much embodied by his wife Agnès (Barbara Hannigan). The Boy agrees to do so and Agnès jumps at the chance to not only get love and attention as a woman (instead of a trophy) but also to set the record straight with her husband. So she seduces the Boy and influences his work.

I keep on trying with modern operas, but I’m not really getting there. With this one, at least, I really liked everything but the music.


Continue reading