Michael Thalheimer is one of those practitioners of Regietheater (directorial theatre) who, for German critics, can seldom do wrong. Once again, reading the gushing reviews about this staging of Endstation Sehnsucht, Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire, at the Berliner Ensemble, we can’t help wondering: did we see the same play? Is there some kind of invisible, cultural AR helmet warping our perceptions, and, if so, who’s wearing it? Without question, the elevated rectangle carved out of a rusted wall, forcing the actors to negotiate a steep diagonal for the entire play, makes for a visually striking set. And of course the actors are impressive in terms of presence and technical ability. But to what end? Thalheimer plots movements along the slanted floor like a scientific chart that shows which character has the upper hand. Subtext, which was never far below the surface in Williams anyway, is rendered visible without any trace of subtlety. The abundant shouting, a near obligatory feature of German directorial technique, numbs the listener to emotional intensity and precludes any hope of experiencing a satisfying build in the drama. By the time Blanche gets carted away to the asylum, you may be ready to go along with her.
06.07.2018 - 14:30 Uhr
Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar crashes
Michael Thalheimer is one of those practitioners of Regietheater (directorial theatre) who, for German critics, can seldom do wrong. But what did our critic think of his newest production, "Endstation Sehnsucht", at Berliner Ensemble? Read on...