“Cruelty is a drug… and it’s all around us,” cites the description of Kata Wéber’s play on the Volksbühne website. Directed by Wéber’s longtime creative partner Kornél Mundruczó, Minime features other vices as well – alcohol, violence, Botox – and all of them contribute the the harrowing climax of this devastating production.
We witness Mini, known to her father as Dalma, undergoing a series of “lessons” conducted by her controlling mother Clau about school, life and, ultimately, death. Projecting her frustrations and dreams onto her 10-year-old daughter, Clau has given Mini her own anxieties and sense of inferiority while grooming her to be the model Clau has obviously failed to become.
The dramatic action spirals this family of three – hysterical Clau (Kathrin Angerer), loser dad Josef (Daniel Sträßer) and the hapless Mini – into a No Exit-like scenario. In order to survive, poor, young Mini has fatally learned to play her part using the few paltry but lethal manipulative powers she has, with desperate consequences.
A live soundscape by Daniel Freitag ratchets up the tension to almost unbearable levels. Some elements of the plot in the middle are a bit contrived and heavy-handed, struggling to achieve the desired denouement. And the set – an inexplicably stylish home in some verdant middle-of-nowhere – is certainly easy on the eye, but it raises more questions than it answers.
Nevertheless, the phenomenal performance by 10-year-old Maia Rae Domagala as Mini projects this three-plus-star show squarely into four-star territory.
★ ★ ★ ★
Apr 3, 29 Volksbühne, Mitte (In German with English surtitles.)