Monday, May 4, 2015

Theresia Walser & Karl-Heinz Ott's "The Whole World" Reviewed on The Arts Fuse

On The Arts Fuse I review the grotesquely funny domestic comedy, The Whole World by German playwrights, Theresia Walser and Karl-Heinz Ott which was presented in a staged reading by German Stage at the Goethe-Institut Boston, on April 23rd. The reading was directed by Guy Ben-Aharon.

Walser and Ott’s version of middle-class monstrousness isn’t about pointing out how animal urges are trapped under a civilized veneer (Harold Pinter). The play focuses on the incoherence that lurks underneath the narratives we tell about ourselves: it is about the slippage from the innocent self-mythologizing we do to make ourselves the protagonists of our own stories to a condition moves into the realm of pathological lying. The couples do not begin in conflict – Tina and Dolph are seeking friendship with a couple they imagine to be very much like themselves, merely different in an interesting fashion – only to discover that Regina and Richard aren’t even remotely similar to anything Tina and Dolph would care (or dare) imagine existing in the ‘whole world.’ It isn’t a playground conflict or workplace struggle (Yasmina Reza) that incites the psychic savagery between the couples, but the nihilism that lurks underneath the price we pay for our bourgeois comforts. This shouldn’t lead you to think that The Whole World plays like some sort of psychological horror show; as in the plays of Edward Albee, Pinter, and Reza, the audience’s laughter increased with every twisted revelation of disfunction.

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