Friday, September 29, 2006

I am my own wife: review

Since the youngest was born, we've not often been out to theatre despite having frequent access to free tickets. Last night, we went to I am my own wife at the Sydney Opera House. The play is based on the life of Charlotte von Malsdorf who established the Gruenderzeit Museum in East Belin and survived both WWII and life under the Stasi despite being openly a transvestite.

It is a one (wo)man show and is outstanding. The actor, Jefferson Mays, play 8 - 10 characters with remarkable clarity and distinctivness. The set is a brilliant design that transforms from the interior of a small suburban home into a vast chamber overflowing with grandfather clocks, phonographs, and antique furniture. The script is tight despite the complexity of the story and elegantly shifts from Charlotte's present to her time in both Nazi and Stasi controlled Germany. I particularly like that the script didn't solve the ambiguity about Charlotte's involvement with the Stasi, which included being an infomer (apparently 1 in 3 East Beliners were) and allegations that she informed on another collector (and possible lover) leading to his imprisonment.

This play genuinely deserved the standing ovation it received last night and apparently many others.

Though they focus on very different people and stories, this play reminded me of the Gary Henderson's Skin Tight which we saw in Wellington in 96 or 97.

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