Thursday, November 23, 2006

Adventures in the Dublin Theatre Festival - part two

Emilia Galotti is some famous play to Germans, and was performed here in German by some progressive theatre company. However, they were performing it in a manner that seemed to deconstruct and ironically critique the narrative. This would maybe impress in Germany, where everyone studied the text at great length in school, but I found it all a bit annoying. I gather one of the reasons for the tricksy production was a sense that the story no longer has resonance in a world without hereditary princes possessed of absolute power. But the story seemed to me almost Shakespearian, and everyone loves him. Besides, there are large parts of the world ruled by hereditary absolutists, even if they are not officially monarchies.

I also found this play depressing because of its reminding me of how suckass my German is.

Rattled & Disappeared was a Hungarian adaptation of Kafka's The Trial, with a setting that deliberately hovered between the original Habsburg milieu and the present day. Presumably you know the story - the protagonist gets up one morning to find that two guys eating his breakfast. They reveal that he is under arrest, but it is an open arrest that allows him to go about his business semi-normally, though he soon finds himself up against an incomprehensible bureaucratic establishment.

This version took some of its cues from Kafka's friends reputedly finding the novel hilarious, so they played up the comic elements. They also threw in loads of mimed song and dance routines, giving the whole thing a somewhat Denis Potter air. And they emphasised the at-times seedy eroticism of the book. So something for all the family, though I did think maybe the second half went a bit too song-and-dance, losing narrative coherence as a result.

The set was a thing of wonder, not so much a box as a telescope with much of the action happening seemingly miles away at its end. In the end I would have to judge this the hit of the festival, for all my reservations about the second act. Part of this came down to this being the kind of play that works well in foreign – you kind of know the story already, the dialogue is not as important as the way the characters act towards each other, and there is a lot of running around and people hitting each other.

and that's all I saw. I ran away in terrore from the very idea of seeing the CAPITALE PUNISHMENTE IS BADDE play.


Paul said...

Re: the updated Kafka:
"Presumably you know the story"

You are foolish to presume I am so literate.

Perhaps the rest of your readers are less philistine than I.

Kealo said...

I think you mean, "less philistine than me".

Kealo said...

Apologies for being so pedantic. It's been two years, but I still haven't been able to beat the TEFL teacher out of me.

ian said...

Maybe you need to beat bad grammer out of Paul.