This is a play from the year 2002 – it’s been archived by the State Theatre, recorded by one fixed camera, strictly for research purposes. Now because Simon Burke is brilliant and a miracle worker, I was allowed into the archives of the theatre to watch this surrealistic farce by young German author David Gieselmann. To say I was happily overwhelmed is an understatement.
Title giving Mr Kolpert is a work colleague in a higher position of Sarah and Ralf. The two have invited friends – but their apartment is bare except for a rather large chest in the middle of the living room. There is nothing to eat as well! So when Edith and Bastian (Simon Burke) arrive there’s the question what to drink, eat and where to sit… And while Ralf is ordering pizza on the phone (not made easier by wife and guests repeatedly changing/repeating the varieties they want) Sarah also makes small talk – did they know Mr Kolpert?
There is an ominous knocking sound nobody can place at first – does it come from outside, is the pizza already being delivered? Or is it in the next room – or is it… the chest … the one item in the room nobody can overlook, the pink elephant?
And then it turns out – Mr Kolpert, with whom meek Edith of all people says she had an affair, who is missing – has been killed. Sarah and Ralf have killed him and stuffed him into the chest that is still standing in the middle of their bare living room. So while they are waiting for their pizzas to be delivered and while Bastian gets more and more aggressive, he and Edith try to open the chest while Sarah and Ralf are trying to prevent that. Even pizza delivery boy joins in – mostly because he’s mixed up their orders – and the terror of knowing that there is a dead person in their midst grows.
When they finally manage to break the chest open… it is empty.
But in the midst of relief and growing jealousy on Bastian’s side, growing confusion on pizza boy’s and simple glee on Sarah and Ralf’s because they were able to fool them all… fists fly and in the tumble between the two men and the two women with pizza boy as a reluctant spectator, they crash into a wall.
The killing couple had stuffed the corpse into the dry wall.
It is as if the revelation of the murder and the uncovering of the corpse has freed primal instincts in everybody. They barely and now for real have stuffed Kolpert into the large chest when rage and bottled up anger come to the fore. And it is Edith, shy, meek Edith, who finally raises her hand against her husband under whose short fuse she obviously had suffered for years. Bastian is still half alive when they stuff him, with multiple stab wounds bleeding out, into the chest to their first victim. Because… to kill somebody could be the new normal…
This farce is a brilliant example that even partly repetitive and even nonsensical text combined with a strange, weird plot full of violence and malignance can make sense and lead to some soul searching in the audience if, IF great actors lend their talent.
As was the case in this production. There was not one moment – not even the laughable ones – when I wasn’t mesmerized by the sheer ferocity of Sarah and Ralf and by the very clever way they lured first Bastian, then Edith into their spider’s web of lies and deception, until Edith finally snapped.
And I had to think – what does it take to snap? How cold are we already to dine over a dead body, just being happy it’s not us. And how did Sarah and Ralf first start to kill…
It might also not come as a surprise that I was absolutely enraptured by Burke’s portrayal of Bastian – his command of his voice, facial expressions and finally body made it a joy to watch his fight with his rage, his conscious and finally with Ralf and with Edith and Sarah. He delivered yet another remarkable piece of work and I was so glad I was allowed to watch it.
It’s an amazing play and I am so very privileged to have seen it. My gratitude knows no bounds. (I want a DVD – yes, I am that entitled!) LOL