Now that was … something else.
But let me start from.. the start. The title of the show is “it is always now” – and a colleague of mine waxed lyrical about it. So I got curious and myself a ticket. I should have caught on that something’s wrong when the show obviously wasn’t sold out. And when I realised that I was probably the youngest member of the audience.
But I still was really looking forward to Burgtheater-Doyen Michael Heltau with his one man show. Even though the only decoration on stage was a microphone used as a stand for a panama hat.
It got worse. I think I saw a Eulogy – sung by Heltau for himself. The man is over 80 and he was so fabulous when he was younger. He was the first to interpret Jacques Brel’s chansons in German and he was really good at it, too.
But at this show all he did was talk-singing one song after the other, each one more depressing and frustrating as the one before. It was all about people with no chances in life, people who are mourning their youth, their loves, their lost opportunities. It was Jacques Brel all right – but I guess it was a very bad translation – I mean Brel did sing about depressing themes, but he was all about going to the edge of the abyss, then turn around and challenge fate: hit me now, you are not going to bring me to my knees. In these translations Heltau did go to the ledge of the abyss and then took a step forward to fall to death instead of fight.
With a lot of sadness I thought back to the absolutely brilliant “Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris” I saw in my beloved Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, where the translations were so much more accurate. Also: the small band on stage did not much to enhance the performance, not even when during one song they had to hum along the song .After 45 minutes was intermission8.15 and with the program’s end planned for 10 I decided I am not depressed enough to endure that any longer. I left, and I wasn’t alone, either. (I met people paying with a burgtheater- card in the parking garage just like me LOL)
I guess I’m just very spoiled. The signature shows I saw by Simon Burke or John Barrowman are so much better, they are not even in the same universe than this. They are structured and fun and moving and more than worth the money. This show was just incredibly depressing – also because it was the demontage of a former talent – and there only remains one question: What did my colleague actually see in this awful performance…