Professor Bernhardi Oct. 4th, ’18

theatre misc

Professor Bernhardi is one of the best known plays written by the Viennese dramatist, short story writer and novelist Arthur Schnitzler. It was first performed in Berlin at the Kleines Theater in 1912, but banned in Austria until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a result of World War I.

The story makes it clear why it was so controversial: jewish Professor Bernhardi bans a priest from the death bed of a young girl who had a botched – illegal – abortion, and has no idea that she’s dying of sepsis. She’s happy and thinks she’ll go home in a few hours. She dies when a nurse tells her that a priest wants to apply last rites.

Because of Bernhardi’s faith (even though he’s not an observant jew) and because he’s the director of the clinicum where a christian nationalist doctor is vying for his job the case is made public and politicised until the mostly jewish staff of the clinicum resigned in protest and Bernhardi is sentenced to two months in jail because the nurse gave false witness by claiming Bernhardi pushed the priest and even said priest spoke in favour of Bernhardi.

Two months later  Bernhardi is free and his students are in the streets, celebrating. His opponents are in power, both in parliament and in his clinicum, and he has stopped writing a book about his ordeal. The nurse has come forward and confessed to lying in court because her confessor told her so. Bernhardi lost his licence to practice.

The play is indeed as bleak as it sounds and was on point and very much in tune of the times in 1911 and – unfortunately – in 2018 as well. Antisemitism, xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise again and it seems we haven’t learned a thing from our recent history. Sigh

Now to the actors. It’s an all male cast except for the nurse, but the actress is only on for minutes in the first act and didn’t stay on for curtains. Probably because the play  is 3 hrs plus, partly because herbert föttinger (bernhardi) indulges in pregnant stares and equally pregnant pauses that were mostly annoying. Brilliant and brilliantly disgusting florian teichtmeister as Bernhardi’s nemesis who wins everything he fought for by using politics. Awful. Disgusting. Brilliant. Bernhard schir is the politician who turns to whoever, whatever suits him best. He’s one of Austria’s best actors and rightfully so. I recognised several politicians in his portrayal and his characterisations are flawless.

Two more mentions because they were good and good looking (yes, I’m shallow): oliver rosskopf as the Dr med whose patient died and nikolaus barton as Bernhardi’s son.


The Misanthrope Aug/Sept ’18


a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society


Only that Moliere’s Misanthrope doesn’t avoid human society, he’s just really pissed at it. In 1666 Moliere wrote this masterful hissy fit of a play to get even on a society he didn’t agree with and – that didn’t agree with him quite often. At the time the play didn’t receive much accolade, probably because a strong female character, Celimene, gave as good as she got and strung along a line of contenders for her affection until she is put in her place by said men and the help of a pious woman (because women have always been their own worst enemy), so everything’s in order again on the 17th century front where women didn’t have any rights. The Misanthrope himself, Alceste, is the other extreme: Moliere portraits him as a man in search of truth and honesty and in love with a flighty woman, who gets cut down by a society that lives a double standard at the royal court. Talk to your face one way, stab you in the back the other. No surprise it wasn’t a huge success.  Nobody likes to look into a mirror and face their worst self.

In this new production, a fresh translation by Justin Fleming successfully transponds the satire into present day Sydney, the French royal court to a court of different royalty – the music industry. We are witness to the filming of the music video of a number one star, appropriating all the necessary looks and pieces to make it a success, gratuitous bare skin, Michael Jackson pose and even a unicorn included.

But Lee Lewis, the genial director, put yet another twist on the original: she brilliantly gender swapped parts of the cast, making Alceste the female producer in love and turning Celimene into omnisexual Cymbeline. Arsinoe turns into Arsenio, the boss, the money, the power … and the one jealous of Alceste’s love for Cymbeline.

The story is fairly well known, I guess: Alceste is facing court over some false accusations and enters the massively cluttered stage in a strop, stomping away from her – only – friend Philippa, also her lawyer, because Philippa was friendly with someone she, Alceste, didn’t like. She then proceeds to mock Orton’s new song, making yet another enemy in the process. We meet Eleanor (no genderswap) who has a crush on Alceste and is the secret crush of Philippa. Cymbeline is introduced as eye candy, shirtless, pouting into an imaginary camera, presenting his goods, a very clever analogy to his whole life – presenting his goods to everyone and anyone who is able to further his career.

And there is much feared Arsenio (who is played by Simon Burke who brilliantly takes on being cast as the ice cold, powerful a..hole) who arrives in time to scare away two more appreciators (Angus, Cleveland) of Cymbeline’s charms with just a look. He proceeds to emasculate Cymbeline with razorsharp wit only to receive the same treatment by the younger man.

The victory is Arsenio’s though, as he is able to present the coveted Alceste with written proof of Cymbeline’s infidelity. In a fast paced, cruel second part Cymbeline is confronted with various letters he wrote to various men and to Alceste, giving each one the impression he loved only them while dissing the others. The hardest blow lands Alceste who’d be okay if Cymbeline would commit to him on a deserted island, away from a nosey society, but not with marrying him in the public eye. On a now empty stage everybody leaves to fanfares of shame (and the roar of a very expensive car in Arsenio’s case, who exits after icely denying that he ever was even remotely attracted to Alceste, who had rebuffed him) until Cymbeline walks out to the thunder of oncoming rain. The only happy couple are Philippa and Eleanor,  the two level headed protagonists who think of others and not just themselves. Awwwwwwww

Now I admit to having a few problems with how the show is presented. I applaude the gender swaps. I love them. They make for beautiful bi and same sex relationships in the most casual way imaginable and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have seen them. I just find there’s two things that don’t work with it.

1. A young “lad of 20”, a rising music star producing a hit song/video … would he really be slut shamed? Wouldn’t he rather be admired, sought out, getting advertising gigs et al in today’s world?

2. My biggest hang up is with Alceste though. The way she behaves, throwing massive tantrums on stage, lacking any diplomatic skills … in today’s world she wouldn’t have been able to rise to her position. It’s still very much a boys’ only club, and while the old rebuttal “you’re too emotional (are you having your time of the month?)” finally gets being called out, it’s far from extinct. Alceste even mentions that in her scene with Arsenio, that she would be called out by the upper echelons of the business and it’s clear that Arsenio comes to the same conclusion. But I also have problems with the actress’ mannerisms which are mercilessly made fun of by Philippa, Rebecca Massey.  I know it’s satire, I know it should be over the top, but no. Too much, no comical timing. She’s going for the easy laugh, but misses the mark when it comes to precision and pace. Add to that her voice which doesn’t hold up during 3 hours of fast dialogues and again and again goes hoarse, which is a shame. It might be called sexy on TV, but it’s bad vocal training on a vast stage in a large theatre.

I do love the set design. It very cleverly reflects the story as it unfolds, going from an overly cluttered backstage room to less and less props until all that is left is a large white backdrop that gives the actors a blank page to express themselves, to write on, (if they can 😉) a door and a chair.

Cymbeline, Ben Gerrard,  has a drop dead gorgeous body and rightfully uses it, being objectified and half naked most of the time. (I hear his rigorous diet didn’t go over well with his poor partner.) Cleveland, Hamish Michael (who also plays Orton) and Angus, Anthony Taufa, are funny, relatable characters despite being written as over the top (and yes, I love both Hamish and Anthony. Great comical grasp, hugely talented awesome people). Philippa, Rebecca Massey,  is by far the best female on stage. She’s flawless. Timing, posture. Love her. Eleanor is cute and sweet and very good, but doesn’t have enough chances to shine.

Arsenio. Oh he is magnificent. The character needs to be strong, ruthless, oozing confidence with a certain malicious streak and an ample dose of charm and Simon Burke excels in it. With razor sharp disdain for the rival of his interest in Alceste he eviscerates, emasculates the younger man with rapier like wit (I must say the lines “you are quite … for someone so underendowed. youth and beauty are hollow… you should learn to swallow.” And then, about his many lovers ” you are known to open doors, … your lovers sleep themselves to the middle” were masterfully delivered.) The contempt is real and the strikes against Cymbeline are hitting nerves. I consider the scene between Arsenio and Cymbeline as the strongest of the play.

There’s also silky light charm when Arsenio first tries to lure the trophy that Alceste would be and, when he’s not immediately successful , the honeyed cleverness of planting doubt in Cymbeline’s fidelity into her mind. Because of course he has proof. He is the power behind everything after all and manipulation is his second nature.

Now, I loved the flawless translation of the play, and think that the way Justin Fleming brought its rhymes to shiny new life is genial. But even though we live in a highly transparent time with all of social media making and breaking careers, and influencing our every move even though we might not even be aware of, I am not sure if I can relate to all the characters. It might be because Moliere’s play was written in another time AND place, it might be that some of the characters weren’t archetypal enough to survive, or it might just be that certain performers or rather a certain performer wasn’t quite up to the job of playing the lead in this play…

In this case though, you don’t have to believe me.

“The ‘strained’ scene of confrontation between Cymbeline and Arsenio, played flawlessly, and with subtle thought processes as sharp as a rapiers edge, intent in wounding deeply, but with the surface composure of the ‘innocent’ butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth ‘dandyisms’ of a super-precise intention by Simon Burke was the highlight of the night – interesting, for it is a scene usually played by two women – neither, of these men in this world show outward bruising, but the internal damage must be a spectacular bleed. Cymbeline and Arsenio do not much like each other.”

This is Kevin Jackson’s take on the play

The Lieutenant of Inishmore Aug 20th, ’18

london west end


I initially booked this show because of Aiden Turner who is famous for mowing grass shirtless and brooding in a very sexy manner on TV. Lucky me, he’s also a good actor who thrives on stage and very obviously has a load of fun.

It all starts with a poor brutally slaughtered cat. Wee Thomas is Padraik’s black cat; Padraik, who went off to become an Irish hero and fight the British,  but as a splinter group that attacks mostly shops and the odd pills and marihuana dealer, whom he tortures with happy glee. Just when he’s about to cut his victim’s nipples, his phone rings and his dad informs him that Wee Thomas is poorly. (Because he wants to break the news of the black cat gently so as not to trigger mad Padraik’s really mad temper) . But it’s triggered, of course and mad Paddy on his way home to check on his only childhood friend, the little black kitten that would go on days long benders and come back with a swagger and really hungry.

At home his dad and Donny are fretting about how Paddy will react to the death of his cat. They even obtain a cat, albeit an orange one and start dying it with shoe cream. But while they desperately try to cover up the death of Tom, there are three members of the nra who wait for the splinter group coming back home. They even had his cat killed to lure him back home to stand trial for his rather mad endeavours.  Padraic though is greeted by Mairead, 16 years young and with a desperate crush both on him and on the freedom of Ireland. She’s a master shot and gets weak kneed when he kisses her.

Padraic of course sees through the cover up, kills the orange cat and is about to slaughter his father and Donny when those three nra members step in. Mahem breaks out. Padraic is almostbat his wits’ end, but all of a sudden sharpshooter Mairead takes out their eyes and just as they’re about to die they confess to Wee Thomas’ murder. If only Padraic hadn’t killed the orange tabby and if only said tabby weren’t owned by Mairead and if only ….  and just as dad, Donny and Mairead are cleaning up four dead bodies, the window slips open and Wee Thomas struts in, hungry and swaggery…

The blackest of comedies had me roaring with laughter, the cast was incredible and Turner, thankfully cast against his TVparts is allowed to shine. It’s an over the top, irreverent, fun, glimpse on the fight for freedom… oh, no, not really, it’s just a brilliant hilarious comedy full of vicious humour and pointed dialogue. And Aiden Turner didn’t even have to lose his bloodied shirt. 😁😁😁


Richard III March ’17

theatre misc

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain

About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
With these words Gloucester introduces himself to his audience, a crippled man, unloved, unsightly and unattractive, yet charming, oh so charming when needs be, and cruel and calculating in order to get what he wants, what he sees as his birthright.

Once again Richard was cast with a woman, the incredibly awesome Kate Mulvany, and once again the audience forgets that a woman is playing a man’s part because as it often is with Shakespeare’s characters, it is the archetype of someone lusting after power, after approval, after recognition that becomes a character – and because Mulvany is just so brilliant in the part. While baring her soul to her opponents, Mulvany literally bares all, standing naked, with just a loincloth like panty, back to the audience, proudly in front of a phalanx of Lords and Ladies, and shocks them into silence. A mesmerising scene.

10 people on stage, waiting in the richly decked out salon, where the play takes place, the men taking on multiple parts, interchangeable just as their hunger for power is. The women play one part each, though, their motivations are allowed to change. Whenever a battle scene is on, we see – in slow motion – a wild almost orgy like festivity play out in this salon. First I didn’t like that, I was too caught up in the “traditional” way of portraying the battles, but in retrospect I think the idea to not move from that salon is genius. The hatred, the scheming and the fights can be identical, no matter what kind of battlefield you choose.

When Richard finally dies because everybody turns against him and his cruel reign (and isn’t it fascinating that hundreds of years after this was written the world waits for exactly this kind of end to yet another nepotistic dictator? nothing changes, it seems), Shakespeare gives him the most pathetic words: A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse. And then Richard is killed.

Not so in this version (and I freely admit I had to look it up and found it in the Sydney Morning Herald – thank you for that!): because Kate Mulvany – who also directed (is there anything this woman can’t do???? she is marvellous!) – gives Richard a final chance to explain himself, to make him understood, even pitied even though pity is probably the last thing he wants. With a monologue plucked from the last act of Henry VI, part III she shows us his warped soul, his defiance, his non-acceptance of his defeat and his final pride:

“I have no brother, I am like no brother;

And this word ‘love,’ which graybeards call divine,

Be resident in men like one another

And not in me: I am myself alone.”


standing ovations were had. and rightfully so. Ms Mulvany is incredible, as is her direction. I hope she’s on stage again the next time I’m in Sydney. I will make time for whatever play she’s in.

Chimerica March ’17

theatre misc


Chimerica – a fusion of the words China and America coined by academic historian Niall Ferguson and economist Moritz Schularick to signal the intertwined economies of those two countries (watch the pronounciation!) – is not just a play about that iconic photography of a man standing in front of Chinese tanks at Tien an men in Beijing. (click on this link for the original coverage by CNN: ). In fact, this picture is just a starting point for how much the US and China are diverted by culture, by upbringing and by social norms.

It all starts 20 years ago, when young Joe (Mark Leonard Winter, whose character is given his name to reflect the “average Joe” moniker often given to Americans in general), a photographer on his first boring assignment – an economy conference – in Beijing, is caught in the riots of Tien an men and by pure luck looks out the window of his hotel room just in time to see a single man, holding a plastic bag in each of his hands, standing defiantly in front of the rolling tanks, forcing them to avert him. He takes a photo and quick witted hides the film in the toilet.

At home in the US he is immediately famous. In America the lonely man facing the force of China’s army is a symbol of a new dawn in a dark country, the force of the people against an oppressive regime, something that fits the narrative of the US perfectly.

20 years later, now, Joe is still in touch with his then interpreter Zhang Lin (played by Jason Chong), having been back in China often, yet still not speaking the language… Zhang Lin teaches English in Beijing, trying to instill a feeling of freedom in his students, but mostly being a bit weird, shouting from rooftops (literally). He lives next door to a woman with a severe lung infection caused by working in bad conditions. When she dies, he tries to make the government change said conditions. He’d be in need of some backing, but Joe doesn’t get that he’s supposed to help Zhang Lin. Joe hasn’t had any new successes – he still lives off that one photo he had taken in that hotel room decades ago. When a cryptic message shows up in a newspaper, Joe hopes to finally find that elusive stranger.

Back in Beijing we see in flashbacks, how that photo came to pass: Boy meets Girl at one of the student protests there. Boy and Girl fall in love. Girl gets pregnant, they are happy. But then they get caught in the riots, the girl is hurt badly, dies at the hospital. a tired nurse hands the boy two plastic bags with the girl’s clothes, her shoes, the necklace he gave her. With a bag in each hand he walks away, numb, finds himself standing in front of tanks without even realising it.

While in the US, Joe follows lead after lead until he finds the owner of a flower stand, who seems to be connected to the “brave man in the photo”. It turns out the brave man was his son, riding the tank, not standing in front of it,  avoiding collision with a lunatic. And while China spun a story about how humane its army was, the young man driving the tank was later shot because he didn’t roll over the protester.

The audience, of course, knows – thanks to the flashbacks – that Zhang Lin was the brave young man in the photo, something Joe would’ve caught on as well, had he even tried to learn more about his interpreter who had been a friend to him even when they sent him to prison for “colluding” with Joe.

So we look at two lives at dead ends – one in democratic America, where you have to follow orders given to you because of monetary motifs in a more concealed way perhaps, just like in “non-democratic” China. Who are we to say that Democracy as we know it – being executed by rich white men – is so much better or so much more just than any other form of rulership?


The play doesn’t give us answers, but asks great questions and did have great impact on me. With the help of personal stories (Joe’s finding and losing love, Zhang Lin’s having and losing all hope) it depicts the differences but more often the commonalities of two only outwardly different countries that probably won’t ever understand each other.  I didn’t warm up to the actors that much, though. I “recognised” Joe’s failures from a lot of distant colleagues, who live off lost glory, but Mark Winter didn’t make me care about him, he rather instilled a vague feeling of discomfort in me. I rather sided with Jason Chong, who did capture the life of someone who was eaten by his grief very well.

All in all it was another great night of theatre thanks to the Sydney Theatre Company in the Roslyn Packer Theatre. If you ever get there, try the restaurant. They serve yummie stuff!



John Gabriel Borkman Sept.15th,’16

stratford logo


In a world of ice and snow, the cold creeps inside you and kills.

This is a play about responsibilities and acceptance – we delve into the ugly hidden depths of a pathologically dysfunctional family with no sense of belonging, to the music of pacing to and fro, all the time, every day and night, and it hurts.

John Gabriel Borkman (Scott Wentworth) is a bank manager who got caught embezzling money – a lot of money – from his clients. After five years in jail he has been home for eight years but his desperate, futile,and ineffective attempts at proving his “innocence” have kept him locked and pacing in the upper ballroom of his once grand mansion which now is derelict and filled with papers, letters and files. The lower floor belongs to his wife Gunhild (Lucy Peacock) who hasn’t spoken to him since his trial. She too is trying to prove something. She feels betrayed – she’s better than being the wife of a criminal. so her son Erhart (Antoine Yared) will have to rectify the situation, he must restore the house to former glory and therefore must sacrifice his life to that cause.

Into this oppressive, cold and sickly family barges Gunhild’s twin sister Ella (Seana McKenna) with a plan of her own. She was the only client of Borkman who didn’t lose money. She was Borkman’s love. A love that got sacrificed for the career Borkman had, advancing from the simple miner with the urge for a better life than listening to the or sing when it comes loose, to a banker with status. Now she wants Erhart – the son she never had but whom she took in for years because Gunhild couldn’t cope – to care for her – in exchange for money.

Ella is the catalyst that brings everything down. Gunhild reveals her controlling, bitter self, Borkman is deluded enough to hang onto his shiny past to make it right there instead of trying to start anew. And Erhart has found a more cheerful prospect on life in the arms of a “naughty” ill reputed woman and won’t fulfill his mother’s dreams of justice, nor his father’s dreams of work, nor his aunt’s dreams of having a carer in her last days.

The tragedy is that neither of them actually advances. Ella will be clinging to Gunhild who in return will inherit money. Erhart goes from one dependency (his mother) to another (the woman of ill repute who takes him with her) and Borkman? When he finally leaves the upper ballroom to breathe in the fresh cold air he sees his plans before him again. Imprisoned in a past that never happened he envisions an or- fuelled future that already started without him. An icy iron hand clasps his heart… alone , even though Ella is with him, he dies in the snow, only finalising what had already happened years ago.

The two sisters try to grasp each other…


The play was so riveting I went to see it twice. A stellar cast feeding off each other on stage is a rare thing and should be worshipped like that. Wentworth once again dominated the play, his self assured delusions frighteningly real. That he takes his bows jokingly in the rhythm of the dance macabre did make the transition from wintery Norway back to Stratford easier. His warm demeanour towards this still awestruck fan was a huge bonus.

Clinton The Musical Aug., 2016


William Jefferson Clinton / Simon Burke

I don’t even know where to start.

It’s brilliant. Amazing. Hilarious. Irreverent. Crass. And brilliant again.

And with a light hand picks up current politics as well as the shenanigans of the Clintons back then in 1998.

So let me start with a bit of meta-info:

Michael and Paul Hodge are the playwrites (Michael, the older one, is also a barrister) and came up with the idea of a musical about Clinton by way of a joke made by a friend of theirs. It took a bit, but they finally brought the musical to Edinburgh’s fringe festival and later on after a couple of rewrites for the US-market (you don’t need to explain this, everybody knows!) to Off-Broadway winning prizes along the road. And even though the show wasn’t actually acknowledged by the White House, some official men in black came one night and laughed heartily at the irreverent jokes – as well as some friend of Monica’s who actually believed Miss Lewinsky would have found it fun to watch.

The story is known by everyone who wasn’t living under a stone in the late 90ies (or not born yet): We are following William Jefferson Clinton’s imploding double life – he himself said in his autobiography that he felt sometimes as if he was leading parallel lives; on the one hand the suave and charismatic diplomat who steered the US of A out of financial troubles and into a better future, and on the other hand the still charismatic but also roguish and reckless saxophone playing entertainer who strayed from the married way more often than not.

Which of course led to pretty intern Monica Lewinsky and the Republicans’ war against the President. And even though his political opponents had the “stained dress” and witness statements, they weren’t able to dethrone the charismatic president. Neither Kenneth Starr who investigated Clinton’s affairs (and has just been fired/retired from his university job because of … wait for it — a sex scandal involving the football team), nor Newton Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the house, who began coughing while criticizing Hillary Clinton for coughing, have been glaringly successful since Monica-gate.


Now finally on to Clinton The Musical

When the curtain rises we see a person in pants sitting with their back to us, the audience, smoking a cigar. The impressive leather chair turns – and it’s Hillary Clinton (fabulous: Lisa Adam), telling us she ever only loved two men her whole life, and they were one. Enter William Jefferson Clinton, suave, charismatic, statesmanlike (the sublime Simon Burke), introducing himself with “I’m William Jefferson Clinton”  –  in struts another man from the other side (radio morning show host Matt Dyktynski) with the same line, just adding “But you can call me Billy, darling”. So while William Jefferson is trying his best to win the Presidency in order to give people a better life, in order to have a legacy (cue Hillary stage whispering “Legacyyyyy”) with telling them that he’s from Hope, it is the roguish Billy – he plays the Sax!!! – who wins over people, because he knows that “people have the attention span of a congested gold fish and politics is showbiz for ugly people!”

The Clintons win – WJ paints the future in The Me I See in glorious colours (Simon Burke’s voice is incredible sigh) – then try to get rid of Billy for the term. Because he lies (I’m creative with the truth) and has no moral compass (I just don’t use it) and because he’s trouble (no! Trouble finds me). This of course sets the stage for a power struggle between the two Williams for the White House and for dominance over Clinton himself. While William and Hillary celebrate their win (would I ever lie) out of the shadows comes a bored intern leading a group of tourists – and stops in her tracks because MR PRESIDENT!!!! I’m Monica (Megan Kozak, her first engagement and boy is she talented)… and off it goes with a kiss that takes minutes there on the steps and Billy declaring his love to Monica – would I ever lie – it’s a brilliant 4some happening; two duets merging into one brilliant song.

Meanwhile at the Republican’s headquarter “a Starr” is wished upon… Ken Starr (Brendan Hanson), the prosecutor, emerges from behind a wall-door in a black coat and hat and he wants Clinton buried deep. In his intro it turns out he wears leather chaps over an american flag thong. It is a safe laugh of course, but also a bit cringeworthy. He dug up a land deal in which the Clintons lost money “Whitewater arrrghhhh” and feeds that to the press. and even though nobody really knows what Whitewater (arrrrrgghhhh!!!) is, WJ is in trouble for the first time as the press is covering the story “today… and tomorrow… and the day after that”. Because the Republicans and especially Newt Gingrich (hilarious and whiney and great Luke Hewitt, snacking throughout the show!) want Clinton and his health care plan by Hillary (“a witch!!” hisses Ken Starr) dead and buried. and it works because congress says “nay”.

And then there’s Monica who is “fucking the fucking president, oh yeah, u hu! I’m fucking the fucking president shazam!!!” but as she can only see one Bill Clinton at a time, she’s devastated when WJ breaks up with her. The budget is – thanks to Billy’s plan to outmanoeuver Newt – balanced, people love their president, Hillary urges both men to work together (you must go both ways) to get re-elected, so “what could go wrong?” A subpoene, that’s what could go wrong.

It’s all downhill from then on – WJ doesn’t want anyone to know about Billy and therefore lies to Starr, his State of the Union-address doesn’t have anything sexy or legacy worthy in it and the press is asking about Lewinsky. In a rousing song about A Place Called Hope William dreams up his vision of America, a vision he’s had since before he was born… “where fox news were made illegal, where everyone would have an education, a house and such, and would need no guns because there are none and would go to church, but not too much. Where two gay men would marry, and adopt a child named Harry and join the Milit-ary and it would be heaven for them. … in a place called Hope”. There’s no time for that, though. Cast aside, Monica decides to side with Starr who – snake like – has waited in the shadows for her call. Together with Monica’s “friend” Linda Tripp (an amazing Clare Moore in a christmas themed pullover, who also doubled as a reporter, Eleanore Roosevelt and Callista Bisek) he has the witness, the DNA, the dress and Monica to ruin WJ, who in the meantime has confided in Hillary (she has plans of her own, to make 8 years in the White House into 16 and Trump plays his part in this…) who is devastated.

Only a miracle can now save the President. A miracle in the form of Callista Bisek – who has intimate relations with Speaker of the House Gingrich. She reluctantly after being outed by Clinton helps WJ understand that he will succeed only when showing his dark side, or in his case: Billy to the people who are judging him.

The trial in front of the congress is about to start, with Billy watching if his alter ego is going to be thrown out of office. But with political half truths William Jefferson manages to escape Starr – he first asks for the paper about sexual relations being explained, which both Starr and the Sheriff (Luke Hewitt obviously enjoying the song) then interpret: “if it’s groin, labia or glands, breast, hands or chest….then it is … sexual relations”. But, what a regrettable oversight indeed, the MOUTH is never mentioned. And President Clinton’s statement that he never had sexual relations with Monica therefore was correct.

Meanwhile Hillary is crushed. Betrayed once again by her unfaithful husband she sobs into the huge desk in the oval office, when Eleanore Roosevelt steps out of her portrait (it’s so lifelike, remarked WJ in the beginning) and gives out good advice to Hill: you’re like a bag of tea – you never know how strong you are until you’re put into hot water. Hillary should stay true to her husband – not out of love or for the marriage – no, for the country. Hillary misunderstands again: she won’t be discarded like a tea-bag – she’ll be president – a bitter brew but strong!

At congress it’s all about dismissing Clinton, who finally admits his sins, showing that he is just human. Even Billy helps to get Monica to forgive him and Callista – who wants Newt for herself – is center stage singing “I’m fucking the fucking speaker, oh yeah!” Then even Hillary joins her husband at congress, waiting for the verdict but the two Bills already have a plan – the lights go out. And in red glittery jackets they appear before congress: two men who make one hell of a president. Clinton is not thrown out of office, Hillary goes on to announce her candidacy for president – just not right away, tea needs time to brew after all – and the two Bills strut down the stairs “Then we’ll be fucking the fucking president, oh yeah, shazam”.




Are you still with me? good!

The cast is marvellous. Seven people, on stage almost all the time, their chemistry is shining through the play. A riot Lisa Adam who unabashedly hogs the stage with her  energy. Her antics in her dreadful water colour suits are amazing. (Set and costume designer Bruce McKinven really outdid himself with a brilliant White House dominating the rotating stage and the dated dresses he created! loved it!!)  She is the ecstatic worshipper, the air guitar player, the driven politician and the gleefully echoing “Legacyyyyyyyyyyyy” wife and brilliant.

Clare Moore as Eleanor Roosevelt’s portrait is quoting the past first lady and being misinterpreted by Hillary – she is brilliant in her multiple parts, as a reporter (what the fuck is Whitewater arrrghhh???) as well as the American woman. And I love her Callista who really hates WJ but still talks sense to him.

Luke Hewitt: I almost broke something laughing when he slurped canned peaches during the impeachment scene (I love peaches!! he’d confessed before). His portrayal of a whiney, not very clever politician who does, well, nothing at all is hilarious and awesome – he is snacking through all his Gingrich scenes leading to slapstick comedy with a too tight belt or a too tight corset or a moment of clarity when he asks Ken Starr if it’s bad to have an affair… asking for a friend…

Which leads me to Kenneth Starr played by Brendan Hanson. Now, don’t get me wrong – he’s a good actor with a strong set of pipes and some hilarious one liners written into his part. But… One newspaper wrote about his almost aggressive portrayal of a gay man. And that was my problem with his interpretation. Of course the whole musical is way over the top (in a truly brilliant way) and blunt and fun, but I cringed when he started slapping his bare buttocks or got the definition of sexual encounters on paper out of his fly. Yes, it’s a programmed laugh, yes, it’s entertaining, but less would have been more, at least for me.

On to the two Clintons. Matt Dyktynski managed to be roguish without being sleazy, and made it very easily believable that women were falling for him left and right. When it is stated that the National Guard was procuring women for him, he steps in, enraged “That is a blatant lie. I procured them myself!” and I swear, me and every woman in the audience believed him. When I met him after the show I gushed a bit and he answered: I live to give! I’m not quite sure if he realised that this tagline was so Bill Clinton I almost choked on my water.

“I’m William Jefferson Clinton” are the first words Simon Burke sings when entering the stage. He sings it American, his accent flawless. When he talks, his voice is slightly hoarse and has the drawl Bill Clinton has. He’s one minute suave, the next comically wringing hands, being afraid of Hillary or trying to bring order to chaos and not succeeding. His talent shines – even more so when the sheet covering the huge portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t budging and he improvised, which brought on more laughs. I especially adored his “The me I see” – his first big number, ending on a high note and perfectly executed every time I saw the show. Or his A Place called Hope – the lyrics both earnest statement and hilariously surreal, he creates a new world with his voice, a world we all would love to live in, never falling out of his American accent. Which brings me to the impeachment scene: I swore I saw Clinton sitting in this chair, playing with his glasses, shrewdly commenting around the truth. Even his gestus was on point!  His voice (yes, I am a huge fan, so sue me) is rich, velvety, belting when necessary, lyrical in intimate duets. I was so lucky to see this performance.


Also: huge thanks to the cast, the people of the black swan theatre and everyone involved for making me feel like a VIP – I have never been so well treated. I am still in shock and awe about it. Just please believe me when I say I loved every second of it and am hugely grateful.

My gratitude to Simon has no bounds. Nor has my admiration and love for him. Thank you for making this trip an extraordinary experience. You rock.