MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Richard III, Rock Star

I was very fortunate finally to have a chance to catch up with Thomas Ostermeier’s acclaimed production of Richard III the Schaubühne — not in Berlin, but at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Much has been made of Ostermeier’s highly original direction as a saturated, intensified portrait — a Machiavellian mirror — of the title anti-hero. That of course has been facilitated by the exciting, controversial translation/adaptation/condensation of the German text prepared by company dramaturg Marius von Mayenburg.

One of the most brilliantly effective choices — apparently a spontaneous decision arrived at during the course of rehearsal, according to Ostermeier — was to streamline the litany of climactic battles into a sequence of Richard fighting with himself, up to his inglorious demise.

This portrait approach was also made possible only through the weird, cultish charisma and electrifying stage presence of Lars Eidinger as a maniac-depressively embittered Richard. Not an “evil” character, according to Ostermeier, so much as one who makes the workings of power and its aggrandizement theatrically  transparent, naked.

“The play is not about evil as such,” says Ostermeier, “but about participation in power, the exclusion of an outsider and the manipulation of others’ antipathies. In this respect it does have significant political implications.” 

Eidinger’s matchless account requires intense physical acting, stamina, singing, and clownish, stand-up improv with the audience — the humor was particularly well-pointed, not a cop out (with a delightful exchange accusing a prematurely exiting patron of being rude when he claimed he was heading “to the toilet”).

But that’s not to shortchange the contributions of the rest of a stupendous ensemble cast. Percussionist Nils Ostendorf  contributed an excellent, live-wire score, which interpolated some fascinating touches (like an intensely repeated loop that segued in and out of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman”).

 

 

 

 

Filed under: directors, Schaubühne, Shakespeare

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

RSS Arts & Culture Stories from NPR

  • Prosecutors Say They Have Evidence Of More Abuse And Bribery In The R. Kelly Case
    Federal prosecutors in New York filed a request on Friday that they be allowed to enter more evidence of uncharged crimes allegedly committed by the R&B singer in his trial next month.
  • 'Ted Lasso' Scores In Season 2 With Unexpected Twists And A Lot Of Heart
    The Apple TV+ series about an American football coach who winds up coaching soccer in the U.K. is nominated for 20 Emmys Awards. The new season of Ted Lasso is just as warm and funny as the first.
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy: Hugh Grant Embraces The 'Blessed Relief' Of Darker Roles
    Grant started out in romantic comedies. Now he's up for an Emmy for his role as a narcissistic doctor accused of murder in the HBO series The Undoing. Originally broadcast Dec. 1, 2020.
  • Comic-Con Is Online Only Again This Year. On The Bright Side, No Lines!
    No costumed crowds are thronging the streets of San Diego this weekend: For the second year in a row, Comic-Con is online only. But organizers are hoping for a small in-person show in November.
  • Supreme Supremes
    In this music parody game, The War Report podcast hosts Shalewa Sharpe and Gastor Almonte are served a hefty helping of Supremes songs rewritten to be about fast food chains.
  • Body Of Work
    Hosts of the podcast The War Report, Shalewa Sharpe and Gastor Almonte, play this word game in which every answer is the title of a movie, with one of the words replaced with a rhyming body part.
  • Who Owns What?
    Shalewa Sharpe and Gastor Almonte, hosts of the podcast The War Report, figure out which corporate relationships are true and which are false. Pet food candies? Cheesecake workouts? Who's to say.
  • Culture Math
    FINALLY, MATH! Love About Town podcast hosts Kenice Mobley and Rohan Padhye will multiply, divide, add and subtract their way to the answers. You know what? DON'T Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.
  • Coming In Hot
    Love About Town podcast hosts Kenice Mobley and Rohan Padhye hear only the first second of popular songs, and must identify the song based on that alone!
  • Check-In: No Skirting Around It
    Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton challenge gender norms.