For Burgtheater director Martin Kosche, it is a mirror “of the city and the society in which we live here and today – of Vienna.” We are talking about Molière’s play “The Misanthrope”, which was first performed in 1666 and premiered on Saturday at the direction of Kušej. He puts his proclamation into practice: from the rotten parquet of Vienna to the bliss of a drunken waltz to the proverbial mirror that dominates the lavish stage design. Evening like a reckoning.
Two large parallel glass walls extending from the leather floor, which can magically transform into mirrors and return to transparency, constitute the space in which Alceste tries to realize his dream of a life in which there is no place for hypocrisy and falsehood. But the boards on which his house stands are rotten, and there are holes filled with water in the ground that his guests alone cannot stumble upon. This evening at the Burgtheater, Martin Zeitgruber creates a brilliant stage design that plays with appearances and reality, taking its own spin on this drama over the course of the uninterrupted two-hour evening.
At the centre, of course, is the misanthropic Alceste, for whom Itai Teran presents an agonizing conflict between his moral standards and his undying love for Celimene. However, Muffy Horbiger makes it clear with her shiny black suit (with train) and cold shoulders that nothing can ever come of this love. All that remains as a true friend is Philinte (dedicated: Christoph Loesser), Alceste, who gradually catapults himself into the social outskirts. The rest of the company — Markus Meyer shines as the disgraced Oronte, Alexandra Henkel entertains as the buttoned-up Arsinoe, and Tilman Tobe gamely plays the ultimate thin man — meanwhile, have fun mercilessly editing each other out. This image of hedonistic superficial bourgeoisie is supported by a series of 20 extras dancing between acts behind the glass wall to either waltzes, folk music or “to live is to live.” With this bitterly sinister look at “society of kisses and kisses,” one often feels that Koschey is happily bidding farewell to Viennese high society – including a funeral procession with a coffin in the foreground.
An already contemporary translation by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (“…I will call him, he knows the whole hall. I will be happy to help you. This is my hobby”) from 1979 was by Kušej, who only stayed at the hotel. Home until the end of the season before he was replaced by Stefan Bachmann, spiced up again. So high society already remembers the last visit of “Do & Co”, where they enthused about the “Causa Everyman”, threw themselves in front of the “Seitenblicke” camera and talked about the Burgtheater director “Martin K”. “Never there.” Whether this digression, so explicitly aimed at Vienna (and the Burgtheatre) – albeit in well-acted rhyme – would have been necessary remains in doubt given the toxic power of the rest of the piece, as the audience looks back at itself in the spectacle. Mirror for long periods.
The fact that this is a swamp is also made clear by an olfactory surprise: while Terran is hanging in one of the water holes in his not-so-white suit, a stench reminiscent of manure spreads through the hall. A look at the program shows that it is not a problem of sanitation under the stage: “We would like to thank perfumers Marie and Alexander Urban from Urban Scents for the exclusive creation of the room fragrance ‘Le Misanthrope à la Ferme’”, in German: ‘Misanthrope on the Farm’ . This evening, rich in messages, does not need more messages. After a short breath, the audience thanked the director and the group with long applause.
(By Sonia Harter/APA)
“The Misanthrope” by Molière, translated from the French by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Directed by: Martin Kosche, Stage: Martin Zeitgruber, Costumes: Heide Kastler, Music: Bert Fried, Lighting: Reinhard Traube. With Itay Teran, Mavi Hörbiger, Christoph Loeser, Markus Meyer, Lili Winderlich, Alexandra Henkel, Tilman Tobe, Lukas Vogelsang, Chrisf Greiser and Hans-Dieter Knebel. Additional dates: November 21 and 27 and December 1, 10 and 15. burgtheater.at
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