, one of Europe’s top directors, makes his OCC premiere with an idiosyncratic farce based on a work by the 19th-century French comic dramatist, Eugène Labiche.
Two wealthy bourgeois families meet ahead of the wedding that will unite them. Unable to communicate, they sing like there’s no tomorrow, dance the shake, jam themselves into ramshackle chairs, suffer runny noses and gibber away as they pass round stuffed animals.
Their behaviour as just as incomprehensible as their conversation, but there is an objective difficulty to blame: one family speaks only French, the other exclusively German. Marthaler makes excellent use of this original dramatic mechanism—bilingual dialogue—to accentuate his pompous characters’ temporary aphasia, to mock their urbane, bourgeois ways, and to question just how blessed their lives really are. Of course, brought up to date, the work also works as a parody of communicational difficulties within the European Union.
Time and space will never be the same in the European theatre again after Marthaler, who is never afraid to take risks. For two decades now, the award-winning Swiss director has been observing our world and reconstructing it with a poetic sensibility and almost scientific attention to detail.
In fact, Marthaler is redefining comedy with his melancholy humour and politically-, socially- and existentially-laden theatricality. Undermining the elegance of Vaudeville with his irrepressible surrealism, he has redefined burlesque while retaining its eccentric idiom intact: musicality before all else, refined irony, meditative lyricism and purposefully slowed-down rhythms.
After performance talk with Cristoph Marthaler