Sunday, July 30, 2006

Glassula and Goebbels

After a much-awaited outdoors screening of Dracula, with a live score by Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet, was interrupted by a violent thunderstorm just as Bela Lugosi was about to spread terror in England, the cultural weekend was brought back from the dead by Heiner Goebbels' glorious Eraritjaritjaka—Musée des Phrases at the Rose Theater. A big moist thank you to the Lincoln Center Festival for programming that piece.

Over the years, Goebbels has come to embody a unique combination you could call music-theater—not musicals, but a hybrid combination that's like an equivalent to the dance-theater embodied by Pina Bausch. He integrates music into thought-provoking spectacles that are never less than visually striking. It's a tough combination to achieve, especially since the visuals are more than surface: For Goebbels, they are part of the very fabric of the show, of the intellectual concept even

In Eraritjaritjaka, André Wilms spoke all the words (pulled from Elias Canetti's writings—hence, perhaps, the subtitle) while the Mondriaan Quartet played pieces ranging from Ravel and Bach to Gavin Bryars and John Oswald. Halfway through, and just as we were getting used to what looked like yet another European import mixing portentous aphorisms, classical music and elegantly minimalist staging, Wilm left the stage. Actually, we know he left the building since he was followed by a cameraman who continuously filmed him (the image was projected onto the white facade of a house onstage) as he got on then off a cab, bought a bottle of water in a supermarket, entered a building then an apartment, cooked an omelette, etc. But where was Wilms? Unlike the Times' Bernard Holland, I won't spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that the show had suddenly turned into a metaphysical thriller as Goebbels brilliantly scrambled our expectations in a wizardly technical trick that looked as if he was playing with time and space.

File under What Were They Thinking: Sitting behind me was a mother and her two tween girls. While I love the idea of exposing kids to high art, this was really not a play for children. Needless to say, they quickly got bored and restless, and the trio had to make a hasty departure—and since there was no intermission, it was a hassle for everybody around them. What could that woman possible have thought? "A high-concept show in French and based on Elias Canetti? Move over, Lion King!"


Los horoscopos said...

What a coincidence : I was at both shows too !

Elisabeth Vincentelli said...

You have good taste, then!