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Sunday 19 December 2010

Catfish, documentary film by Ariel Shulman, Yaniv Shulman and Henry Joost, recommended 4* out of 5

The documentary film Catfish follows the professional photographer of dance Yaniv Shulman from New York City, as he strikes up a Facebook friendship with an 8-year-old girl and other members of her family from a small town in Michigan. The eight-year-old sends him paintings she has made from his photos. Yaniv's brother Ariel, a documentary film maker, and their friend Henry Joost decide to make a film documenting the development of that Facebook friendship. Things get exciting when a very attractive and talented 20 year old sister of the little painter appears on the scene. Little do they know at that moment what twists and turns the relationship will take.
For the viewer there is some tension, some excitement and several surprises. A very pleasant surprise is the friendship between Yaniv, Ariel and Henry. They are articulate, perceptive and of high emotional intelligence. They also are not easily fooled. But when they begin to suspect that the Facebook family, as they call it, may not exactly be what it appears to be they try to find out more. What they find is interesting, surprising and moving.
Catfish is a fascinating documentary about human relationships and the human creativity and fantasy that can help us cope with difficult life situations. It is a skilfully made, sensitively researched documentary film, in turns funny, exciting and moving.

Catfish Poster

Sunday 12 December 2010

Kin by E.V Crowe at the Royal Court Theatre; recommended: 4 * out of 5

Would you send your 10 year old daughter off to boarding school? After seeing E.V. Crowe's play Kin currently showing at the Royal Court Theatre you would not.

In an English boarding School 10 year old Mimi (Maya Gerber) and Janey (Madison Lygo) are seemingly best friends. Both are highly intelligent and precocious. Mimi is keen to have a role in the school play Arthur Miller's The Crucible about the Salem witch trials. Soon it is clear that the relationship between Janey and Mimi is complex and fraught. Their teacher, Mrs B, who thinks more rightly than wrongly as it turns out, that running a house of 10 year old girls is akin to being caught up in the plot of Golding's Lord of the Flies: “They are small dogs in packs or pairs, doing what small dogs do.” She suspects that Janey subjects Mimi to bullying or inappropriate sexual advances. Both offences according to the result in the offending child being thrown out of the school.

Kin tells us the story from the perspective of the children involved. The writing is outstanding as it captures tone and language in the dialogue among the children. They are quick, highly articulate and liberally use the foulest swearwords. The speed of the dialogue among the children takes some getting used to. Another strength of the play is the way it shows the relationship between the children at the boarding school and their parents through a series of telephone conversations, of which we only need to see one side to get a full picture.
The ensemble acting is of a high standard. The young protagonists played by Maya Gerber and Madison Lygo give outstanding performances in difficult roles.

The author, E V Crowe was a member of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme and has been on attachment at the Royal Court, Summer 2007 and National Theatre Studio, Summer 2010. There is not much more information available about the author, but I assume EV Crowe is a young woman.

Kin is a moving play that is well worth seeing. A rare opportunity to see the world from a child's point of view, skilfully captured with great authenticity. Most adults would feel that this is definitely not a play for children. Having said that, I saw one father bring his 10-12 year old daughter to this play.

The Royal Court deservedly receives much credit for giving very young and budding playwrights much encouragement and a strong helping hand. In Kin the audience benefits richly from this policy. I doubt whether an older playwright could have captured the voices of the children in the play with such force and authenticity.

Madison Lygo (Janey), Maya Gerber (Mimi). Picture by Johan Persson

Saturday 4 December 2010

Austrian/Israeli writer Doron Rabinovici reading from his acclaimed 2010 novel “Andernorts” ("Elsewhere") at the Literaturhaus in Salzburg, Austria

I am in Salzburg, the town where I was born, grew up. For my parents an unusual place to settle. Both, survivors of death camps, they found themselves in 1947 in the displaced persons camp “New Palestine” established by the allied forces in Salzburg after World War II. Most of the 10,000 people in the camp left for Israel and the USA. My parents stayed in Salzburg.

I return to Salzburg to visit good friends from my high school days. Friends from Vienna also made the 200- mile-journey to Salzburg, so we would be able to spend some time together. It did me good.

This evening, I go to see Doron Rabinovici read from his novel “Andernorts” ( translatable as “Elsewhere” but also denoting that this “elsewhere” is a particular place). I have discovered Rabinovici as a recommendation from my brother, a physician living in Zurich. There, I have heard Rabinovici deliver a talk at the ETH (The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). The talk was on “guilt and language”. His thesis in a nutshell: good literature is a better means for exploring the complexities of events giving rise to disputes, misdemeanours and crimes than a trial in a court of law ever can. Rabinovici is a historian of note, an astute political commentator, resolutely on the intelligent left of the political spectrum. He is committed, but nuanced in analysis and judgement. Above all, Rabinovici is a writer, a talented writer of novels to boot.

Rabinovici, born in Tel Aviv of Viennese parents in the early 1960s, came to Vienna as a child in the mid 60s. He is Israeli and Austrian; he writes in German - German literature in a clear elegant prose, that is a pleasure to read. About complicated relationships and feelings, sensitive issues, stories with action, stories that move right along. “Andernorts” has been short-listed for the 2010 German Bookprize, the equivalent for German literature of the Mann-Booker Prize in the UK for Commonwealth writers.

The reading takes place in the Literaturhaus Salzburg (which was opened long after I left Salzburg after my high-school final exams). The Literaturhaus is on the Strubergasse, the street I grew up in. To get there, I walk across the railway bridge traversing the Salzach River. In my time here, the bridge was right in front of our house - and exclusively for trains. As a child, I often imagined it becoming a pedestrians bridge, saving me meters and minutes on errands. I must have been suffering from premature Taylorism. Now, in 2010, my wish has come true. A safe and comfortable pedestrian walkway has been established between two sets of rails. It will take me to the Literaturhaus. The reading by Doron Rabinovici is co-organised by the Centre for Jewish Culture at Salzburg university. This has been founded and funded recently. To me, having grown up in Salzburg in the 1960s, it's name sounds like “FIFA Ethics Commission” – the epitome of a contradiction in terms. As I reach the other side of the bridge there is a new train station for local trains. Poignantly, the next train on the modern electronic indicators is for Braunau am Inn, Adolf Hitler's birthplace. Its first syllable “Braun” was the inspiration behind the brown colour of the swastika flag and the brown shirts of the “brown-shirts”. I don't take the train. I walk five minutes further to the Literaturhaus.

“Andernorts” is a hilarious and moving account of love-hate relationships between different people living their different multiple identities in their personal, individual very human ways. Its protagonist, Ethan Rozen, is an Israeli social scientist working at a university research centre in Vienna. His fatherly mentor Dov Zedek, who had to flee Vienna in the 1930s, has just died. Rozen returns to Vienna from the funeral in Israel. He has applied for a professorship in Vienna recently and is seen as the “logical” candidate. Rozen has been asked to write an obituary for Dov Zedek for an Austrian newspaper, but has refused that assignment. On the air plane he finds that Rudi Klausinger, an Austrian, non-Jewish expert on Jewish culture has been tasked with writing the obituary instead. Klausinger's piece and the talkative passengers with whom Ethan Rozen is forced to communicate, more or less reluctantly, set in train a series of events that will affect the personal and professional lives of Ethan Rozen and other protagonists in the novel.

The human tendency to tirelessly search for cause and effect, even for supernatural influence plays a role here. Attempts are made to divide nature from nurture, to mix religion with genetics, to look for pragmatic solutions to the most tricky interpersonal problems. All this gives the novel drive impetus, absurdity and humour – the ingredients of heightened realism and insight. The differences between Vienna and Tel Aviv are skilfully presented. Which problems will be openly discussed which kept secret? How do people seek to resolve conflicts in the academic, personal and political sphere? Viennese obliquity, Tel Aviv directness – both have to be navigated by the protagonists. So does the weight of their histories. All this is serious and very funny too.

Rabinovici is a skilful reader and teller of anecdotes. When answering questions from the audience, he is modest. He listens, has an eye and ear for detail. He approaches his readers as he approaches the characters in his novel, primarily as people who are complex, who are human, in their weaknesses and strength.
A sample English translation of the turbulent first pages of his book “Andernorts” (“Elsewhere”) is provided in the second link below. Information about the author in English from his publishing house Suhrkamp and a synopsis of his book are in the first link.

I hope all of “Andernorts” will be available in English soon. When I first heard Rabinovici, I was reading this year's Mann-Booker prize winning novel “The Finkler Question”, by Howard Jacobson. To my question, Doron Rabinovici says that he was unaware of The Finkler Question. The two books deal with similar issues, are serious, moving, funny. The ideas expressed, the protagonists, the influence of place, the impact of secrets in family and friendship – the similarities and the differences between these two books are worth exploring.

Foto: Doron Rabinovici

Sunday 28 November 2010

Joseph K. - by Tom Basden based on Franz Kafka's novel The Trial - Gate Theatre Notting Hill; highly recommended

On his 30th birthday, the investment banker Joseph K. is expecting his sushi delivery. He is visited instead by two young men who have recently volunteered for the MI something or other. (This could be a harbinger of of David Cameron's big society, or of Ed Milliband's return to old style socialism.) His visitors inform Joseph K. that he is under arrest. He becomes the apocryphal frog, who is being thrown in cool water and remains there until he is boiled because the temperature is increased gradually, Joseph K. is softened up and sapped of his resistance. Bureaucratic institutions, work-colleagues, his lawyer, his family and even the phone-in radio host do not want to believe that even a paranoid investment bankers may be a victim of state bureaucracy. Finally, all he can do is give in to his terrible fate.

Based on Franz Kafka's classic novel The Trial, Tom Basden has skilfully written a bitingly witty and at times genuinely funny play in and of our time. Undoubtedly, not a few people would wish the treatment meted out to Joseph K. to be dispensed on every member of the investment banking profession. While based on Kafka, the play is refreshingly original and can be appreciated even by adolescent theatregoers, who may never have heard of the novel on which it is based. Basden manages to make us identify with all the characters in the play; including those who have to do the dirty deeds. We could be victim, we could be perpetrator. And Basden introduces acidic wit that makes us laugh out loud. A fast moving production, a fitting set and an enthusiastic and skilful acting ensemble make this intelligent, funny, sad and thought provoking play a genuine pleasure for the audience.

This was my first outing to the Gate Theatre. It is in the heart of Notting Hill, right by Portobello Road. It will not be the last.

As for a post Saturday matinee bite, I discovered Otto's Pizza Restaurant, unique in London for its cornmeal Pizza crust. Great pizza from all fresh ingredients in a plesant atmosphere, including free WiFi. All in all a very satisfying afternoon.

Saturday 20 November 2010

The Social Network - Film directed by David Fincher - highly recommended

Any young woman wondering what the date from computer geek hell would be like need only watch the opening 10 minutes of Aaron Sorkin's outstandingly scripted film about the early days of Facebook.
The Austrian historian and writer Doron Rabinovici, says that historical research gives us an account how things could have been, while good literature (including a good play or film) tells us how it may well have been. This is because good literature (including a play) can give a rich and deep account where the gaps in our factual knowledge can be filled with empathy and imagination by the writer (director, the creative team, the actors).

Based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, the film is a very successful fictional account of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's days as an undergraduate at Harvard. It shows his journey as a budding entrepreneur to the point where Facebook reaches 1 Million users. At the time of this review there are about 500 Million users, and so the films tag-line is “you do not get to 500 Million friends without making a few enemies.”

The film touches on many human topics: life at an elite university in the USA, the best qualities of a WASPy upbringing, the WASP vs. Jewish and Chinese Harvard experience and the surprising extent to which the common Harvard elite identity pushes aside long-held prejudice; (or is this the writer's wishful thinking?).

The genius of Sorkin's (The American President, The West Wing) writing and of Josh Eisenberg's acting is that while Mark Zuckerberg is very much present and quite communicative, the viewer can come out of the film with a range of interpretations on how Zuckerberg ticks and what his character is like. At the one end is “he is not really an a**hole, he is just trying very hard to behave like one”. At the other end of the scale is a person most fiendishly able to seek out the weaknesses in the personalities of friends and business associates and most ruthless in exploiting them for his own economic and reputational gain.

Today Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest multibillionaire, his share in face book is worth in the 10s of billions of US Dollars. All this value - is it real value, one may well ask after the experiences of the internet bubble and the credit crunch - was created between 2004 and now. The enemies he made have been sprinkled with so much “angel-dust” in the form of money, that on may well dearly wish to be one of them. But they did have to engage Zuckerberg in legal action in order to get it.

Zuckerberg says about the film that it is not a true account of what happened. His erstwhile friend and business partner Eduardo Saverin helped in the making of the film and so it is not surprising that his character comes out as rather morally superior. Saverin did get more than a billion USD worth of shares and his name was restored to the founders list on the Facebook website. So his parents can indeed be proud and the extent to which I can feel sorry for him is limited.

As to Mark Zuckerberg's mom, she does not figure in the film, but one can just imagine her sitting in a house in the New Jersey suburbs and wondering as every good Jewish mother would: but is Mark happy? Funnily enough, he probably is.

The Social Network Poster


David Fincher


Aaron Sorkin (screenplay)Ben Mezrich (book)

Wednesday 17 November 2010

LIght Shining on Buckinghamshire at the Arcola Theatre highly recommended (seen in August 2010)

Light Shining over Buckinghamshire is an historical play about the period of the English civil war (1642-1651) by Caryl Churchill written in 1976. 

The heady mixture of war, revolution, religion and politics makes it relevant to our times. Agitators, Levelers and Diggers proffered new ideas. Some chime with the Taliban others foreshadowed common ownership (levellers -communism), urban gardening in common green spaces (diggers-green movement) and the proposal that constituencies should roughly equal numbers of eligible voters (agitators-David Cameron's Conservative Party). 

Listening to the discussions about universal human rights, the role of women in general and free sex and one definitely walks away wanting to find out more about this agitated period of British history. A very strong acting ensemble and excellent direction bring the religious, philosophical and political debates to life. The characters seem very real, passionate and hopeful. All this makes for a riveting production of an impressive play.

Written by Caryl Churchill
Director Polly Findlay

Designer Hannah Clark 
Sound Designer Gareth Fry 
Lighting Designer Matthew Pitman 
Casting Director Juliet Horsley
Cast: Philip Arditti, Jamie Ballard, Christopher Harper, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Helena Lymbery, Michelle Terry .

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Inception - Film- Science Fiction Thriller, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, highly recommended for both science fiction and thriller aficionados

When I freely associate on the word “extraction” , “implant” comes immediately to mind. But then some of my friends would say I am obsessed with dental procedures. Be that as it may, in future the word that will spring to my mind may well be ”inception” and that is due to the eponymous title of the film written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo di Caprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ellen Page.

“Inception”, the movie, is a complex science fiction thriller, a kind of “Mission Impossible” meets the “The Matrix”.The basic premise is that it has become possible for highly skilful and technically equipped specialists to break into other people's dreams. This is done in order to extract information the target does not wish to share with others, by getting closer to his or her subconscious. That is “extraction”. But the trick our specialists are asked to perform here is different and more difficult: break into the traget's dream and plant an idea, an intention, the target would otherwise not have had. This is inception.

The strength of this film is that the complexities at the heart of this plot are well thought through and credibly presented. This makes the film intellectually gripping but also demanding as far as the viewers' attention span is concerned: if you snooze you quickly lose the plot. Another strength of the film are the stunning and beautifully filmed dreamscapes.

There is also a subsidiary plot that is intended to play on our emotion as much as the main plot plays on our intellect; it did not do that for me, or at least that is what I thought at the time.
Those who like intelligent science fiction, will find Inception a piece of film art and entertainment of very high quality.

Post Scriptum:
Inception may be more emotionally engaging than I originally thought. A day after seeing it, I had a dream in which my French teacher from high school appeared and berated me for not making the most of my talent for languages. Why did I only want to learn French, Spanish and Italian? These languages were much too close to the languages I already knew, he said. “You must challenge yourself and take an intensive course in Mandarin Chinese; yes it's a risk, but without taking risks you'll get nowhere!” Perhaps Inception is not science fiction but science fact and a team of experts from the People's Republic is messing with my dreams.......

Inception Poster

Sunday 7 November 2010

Vorlesung von Doron Rabinovici Schriftsteller und Geschichtswissenschaftler zum Thema Sprache und Schuld im Rahmen des Zyklus Recht und Literatur an der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich

Ich bin auf einen Tag in Zürich zu Besuch. Mein Bruder sagt: "Heute Abend gibt es 'was Interessantes zu sehen". Der österreichische Schriftsteller Doron Rabinovici hält eine Vorlesung über „Sprache und Schuld“ an der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule in Zürich. Ich habe Robert Menasses „Vertreibung aus der Hölle“ gelesen, Eva Menasses Vienna auf Englisch übersetzt in Londoner Buchläden gesehen, aber Doron Rabinovici ist mir Exilösterreicher sowohl in Amsterdam als auch an meinem Londoner zu Hause bisher entgangen. Die literarischen Empfehlungen meines Bruders sind aber immer gut; also nichts wie hin!

Der Hörsaal ist recht gut gefüllt. Rabinovici beginnt mit seiner Vorlesung. Mit feinen Formulierungen, anhand von Beispielen aus der Literatur, bringt er seine These, dass in der Literatur die Sprache Mittel hat, um komplizierte menschliche Verstrickungen so vielschichtig und differenziert darzustellen, wie sie oft sind. Er kontrastiert dies mit den beschränkten Möglichkeiten der Sprache im Kontext der formalen Rechtsprechung.

Ich höre gebannt zu. Die literarischen Vorbilder, die er bringt, habe ich nicht gelesen. Aber er fasst sie so gut zusammen, dass ich das Gefühl bekomme, ich kenne sie gut. Gleichzeitig bekomme ich Lust sie „wieder“ zu lesen. Die Fähigkeit zur vorteilhaften Selbsttäuschung ist also bei mir noch präsent. Bin ich dann doch, wie einst Kurt Waldheim, ein „echter“ Österreicher?

Über die österreichischen Gerichtsfälle, von denen Rabinovici spricht, habe ich mich auch im Exil auf dem Laufenden gehalten - teilweise haben sie mich amüsiert, teilweise aufgeregt. Rabinovicis Vorlesung ist eine wie aus Marmor gemeißelte feine Statuette bei der jedes Wort und jeder Klang stimmt. Auch den österreichischen Singsang habe ich im Ausland doch sehr vermisst. Laute Selbstgespräche im Badezimmer sind auf lange Sicht kein vollwertiger Ersatz.

Wortspiel ist bei Rabinovici kein Wiener Schmäh, sondern Wiener Witz.Witz ist die Vorhut der Weisheit. Wenn er erklärt, dass die Schuldfrage beim Zerbrechen einer menschlichen Liebesbeziehung im Roman wahrheitsgetreuer aufgearbeitet werden kann, als in einem Scheidungsverfahren vor Gericht, dann kommt der Satz: „Lebensgefährte – klingt das nicht immer nach Lebensgefahr?“

Dann zu Shakespeare's Kaufmann von Venedig. Rabinovici analysiert messerscharf die spitzfindige Strategie der Portia, die den Juden Shylock mit Tricks und Kasuistik, die christliche Tugend spüren lässt. Dies bringt Rabinovici zu der Bemerkung, so mancher nicht-jüdische Intellektuelle verlange heute von den Juden etwas ähnliches wie Portia von Shylock im Kaufmann von Venedig: Ein Stück Naher Osten können sie sich herausschneiden, aber ja kein Blut vergießen. Diese Bemerkung wird hier in Zürich noch ihr Nachspiel haben.

Zunächst ist die Vorlesung beendet; Zeit für Fragen aus der Zuhörerschaft. Mir fallen ungefähr 20 zugleich ein, aber ich bin der Zufallstourist hier und halte mich also zunächst zurück. Bald weiß ich wieder, warum ich damals nach der Matura nicht nach Wien und nicht nach St. Gallen ging, sondern in London mein Studium antrat. Dort wären nach so einer Vorlesung 100 Hände hochgeschossen auf die Einladung ans Publikum dem Vortragenden Fragen zu stellen. In Zürich stellen nur die 2 Professoren Fragen, die die Vorlesungsreihe organisiert haben. Und so kann ich, der ich in Amsterdam und London, Zentren der institutionalisierten Ausbildung zur Aufmüpfigkeit, meine besten Jahre verbracht habe, mich nach einiger Zeit melden und auch eine Frage stellen. Was sie war ist hier nicht wichtig, aber ich kriege eine ehrliche Antwort und eine Gegenfrage,

Der Hörsaal bleibt weiterhin stoisch, meine Frage hat keine Flutwelle von Publikumsfragen ausgelöst. So bekommt der deutsche Rechtsprofessor, der Schweizer Studenten alles was Recht ist lehrt, die letzte Frage. „Sie machten da bei Shakespeare eine Bemerkung über Israel“, meint er. Ich hoffe doch sehr, dass Sie nicht beabsichtigten die unrechtmäßige israelische Besatzung zu relativieren? Der israelisch-österreichische Doppelbürger und agnostische oder gar atheistische Jude Rabinovici ist sichtlich betroffen. Das war sicher nicht gemeint, und er dachte es auch gar nicht; sei das wirklich so herübergekommen?
In meinem Kopf ist inzwischen Sturm: „Da hört ein deutscher Rechtsprofessor einem differenzierten Vortrag über Schuld und Sprache zu, in dem sich der Vortragende unter anderem auch auf Kurazawas Film Rashomon bezog. Der ist das Paradebeispiel, wie ein Tathergang aus vielen Perspektiven sehr verschieden erlebt wird. Der Herr Professor aber sieht es schwarz-weiß. Er will sicher sein, dass Rabinovici nicht Israels Politik relativiert. An diesem deutschen Wesen sollen Schweizer Jusstudenten genesen. Vielleicht kann der Herr Professor auch nicht anders. Der Vortrag war möglicherweise ein bisschen zu literarisch für ihn. Da muss man sich doch auf ein Detail konzentrieren. Der Herr Professor will es doch nur genau wissen. Er ist vielleicht Pedant, ein I-Tüpferlreiter wie die Wiener elegant sagen. Bei den Niederländern heißt das „mierenneuker“. Das ist deftiger: „Ameisenficker“.“

Doch dann legt sich der Sturm in meinem Kopf.. Ein Wölkchen zieht in vor meinem inneren Auge vorbei. Auf ihm sitzen schmunzelnd Karl Kraus und Helmut Qualtinger beim Heurigen, jeder das Glas Weißwein in der Hand. Auch sie haben der Vorlesung aufmerksam zugehört, und stoßen an auf ihren würdigen Nachfolger, Doron Rabinovici. Ein echter Wiener geht net unter – auch wenn er in Tel Aviv geboren ist.

Meine Nachschau- und Nachleseliste:

Ljudmilla Ulickaja:
Robert Schindel: Gebiertig (Buch und Film)

Albrecht Drach: Das Protokoll gegen Zwetschgenbaum (geschrieben 1939)
Eva Menasse: (Buch zum Prozess gegen den britischen Holocaustleugner Irving)
Eva Menasse: Vienna
Helmut Qualtinger: „Der Papa wird’s schon richten, das g'hoert zu seinen Pflichten“
Akira Kurozawa: Rashomon (Film)

Friday 5 November 2010

Shanghai Lounge, Liquid Loft (Vienna) Xin Jing Dance Theatre (Shanghai) on tour in Switzerland, Highly Recommended (also for those not normally into dance)

Take the modern day confidence of beautiful Shanghai women, add the cool sophistication of the suave Viennese Art Scene. Then top the whole thing off with Xin Jing, an ex colonel in the Chinese Red Army, turned internationally renowned male dancer, who had a sex-change to become an internationally renowned female dancer, choreographer and performer.
Sit down in a lounge bar atmosphere, relax, sip your cocktail, listen to great jazz-tunes, soon you'll be ready to be wowed by your host, a sassy “mistress of ceremonies”, who approaches her audience with a cosmopolitan directness shared by the inhabitants of iconic urban centres to which international money and smart people flow: London, New York, Shanghai.

The beginnings of this collaboration by the Xin Jing Dance Theatre in Shanghai with the Viennese Liquid Loft  go back some time. The Austrians won the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale and had met Xin Jing and her dance company there. Shanghai Lounge originally premiered in (my hometown) Salzburg under its original title "China Project". It  is an international co-production of Liquid Loft, Jin Xing Dance Theatre, Impuslstanz Vienna Int. Festival, Szene Salzburg, Tanzhaus NRW, Teatro Laboral Gijon and Culturescapes.

The young Chinese dancers, one male the other female, strut their stuff. They skilfully reflect the contradictory pressures created by traditional expectations and modern opportunities and demands on today's Shanghai-women. Shanghai women smart, successful, demanding – Sex in the City - and today THE City is Shanghai.

I saw them at the Grü White.Box in Geneva. The international Geneva audience was appreciative, the applause was heartfelt and long.

Due to recent arts budget cuts a planned visit to London is not going through. This indeed is London's loss.

For the time being Shanghai Lounge continues its tour-de-force through Switzerland. Catch it if you can.
(on this website you can also find a video "foretaste")

Choreography: Chris Haring in collaboration with Jin Xing and the dancers.
Performance: Jin Xing,
Dai Shaoting, Deng Mengna, Liu Minzi, Pang Kun, Sun Zhuzhen, Wang Tao
Xie Xin

Sunday 31 October 2010

Metropolis (Director: Fritz Lang) 1927 Original Music by Gottfried Huppertz performed live by the LCO - recommended

Take a pinch Frankenstein, a cupful of Jules Verne, a spoonful of the Hunchback of Notre Dame don't forget the new testament and the story of the Tower of Babel. Put all this into a stunning Art Deco Setting; act with pathos and direct with style. Add a dramatic score performed live by an enthusiastic orchestra.The result is an enjoyable evening at the Roundhouse for the true film buff.

The Country by Martin Crimp Arcola Theatre - Highly Recommended

It is evening. A middle class couple a
re talking, while the children are sleeping upstairs. The dialogue is trivial in content, tense in tone. Soon they'll be having what the husband calls a "domestic" (Oxford English Dictionary: <British informal> a violent quarrel between family members, especially husband and wife). The presence of another person will throw oil on the fire.

Martin Crimp has written a tense absorbing thriller. The rhythm of the dialogue, excellent acting (and strong direction make this a great evening at the theatre. 

The Arcola has a young and enthusiastic audience, whose emotional absorption in the play in taking sides in the argument between the protagonists. Being part of such an audience only adds to the thrill and enjoyment.

Broken Glass by Arthur Miller at the Tricycle highly recommended

Arthur Miller's 1994 play Broken Glass can be seen as the set-in-the-1930ies American drama prequel to the 2010 Booker Prize Winner The Finkler Question (by Howard Jacobson). 

Philip Gellman the only Jew in the Mortgage Department of a WASP savings and loan company is proud of his son who is training to be the only Jewish officer trained at the Elite West Point Military Academy. He's less comfortable with being Jewish, secular and of modest Eastern European origins. It is 1938 and the news about how Jews are being treated in Germany is affecting Jews in New York. Above all Philip's wife (from a more privileged Jewish background than her husband), which brings them and the difficulties of their sex life in near contact with their well adapted secular Jewish German-trained, horseback riding family doctor with an impressive command of down-to-earth, descriptive Yiddish phrases. 

A serious drama on the meanings of Jewish identity takes its course, but Arthur Miller knows how to bring wit and humour into the dialogue and the psychological drama of the story line. The production (director Iqbal Khan) and the cast ( Emily Bruni, Lucy Cohu, Nigel Lindsay, Madeleine Potter, Brian Protheroe) led by Antony Sher make for a gripping dramatic evening, not devoid of laughter. Highly recommended.

Arhur Miller (1915-2005)